Doff your hat to Rafael ‘Rafa’ Nadal
Every time Novak Djokovic threatens to move ahead of the pack, Rafael Nadal shows who’s still the real boss.
Big Three for a reason
The Big Three of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are called that for a reason. A couple of generations have come after them but they remain the three most successful men’s singles players. Even fresh legs and more stamina can’t match the class of the Big Three.
As far as most men’s singles Grand Slam titles won by a player in the Open era go, the King of Clay Nadal has won 22 grand slams while Swiss great Federer and the Serbinator Djokovic are at 20 grand slam titles each.
14th French Open title
Nadal did it in a canter as he beat first time Grand Slam finalist, Casper Ruud in straight-sets 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 to lift his 14th French Open title in Paris in June 2022. The King of Clay reiterated that when it comes to clay, there’s none better, and by a fair distance.
The Spaniard showed that whether it’s a hard grinder like Novak Djokovic or a young turk like Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, the man with record 14 titles at a single Grand Slam is still miles ahead.
The 36-year-old has now won as many French Open titles as Pete Sampras won in his career. And, we are talking about no Tom, Dick and Harry here but Pete Sampras who himself is one of the greatest to ever have played this game.
Downing Djokovic in quarter-finals
“I would prefer to lose the final without a doubt. In the end, a new foot would allow me to be happier in my day-to-day life. Winning is lovely and it fills you with adrenaline for a short moment but life goes on. Life is much more important than whatever title. I had been off the practice courts for a month and a half with a stress fracture on my rib, and then I had [a problem with my] foot. It stayed there all the time. We played with no feeling in the foot, with an [pain-killing] injection on the nerve. The foot was asleep, and that’s why I was able to play,” Nadal said after his 22nd Grand Slam victory.
Despite carrying several niggles, the way Nadal lifted his 22nd Grand Slam title and also got the better of rival Djokovic in the quarter-finals en route was a treat to watch.