Rafael Nadal trivializes the extraordinary. Seeing him lift the Musketeers Cup has become a regular fixture of the tennis season, so much so that it is difficult to understand that it is still so important to him. What fundamental pleasure does he find in the conquest of a 13th replica of the Parisian trophy, in this perpetual conquest of which he never seems to be satisfied? Perhaps that of leaving an indelible mark on the history of his sport, but not only.
Like all great champions, the Mallorcan has a certain ego. Now holding 20 Grand Slam titles, like his friend and yet rival Roger Federer, means a lot to the Mallorcan. Informed on social networks, Nadal wanted to greet his 5-year-old elder. “I thank Roger for this message. As everyone knows, we have a great relationship. We respect each other a lot. And at the same time, in a way, I think he’s happy when I win and I’m happy when he does well. To me, it means a lot to have this positive relationship with Roger, because we’ve been rivals for so long. “
Doubts are good, it means you don’t consider yourself too good
But if only records counted in his eyes, the Manacor Bull would certainly have put down his racquet a long time ago. In his way of fighting on a court, there is sometimes the embodiment of a larger fight, that against the difficulties of everyday life, of life in general. In a year darkened by the coronavirus, a Roland-Garros, even autumnal and deprived of most of its public, represented a kind of light at the end of the tunnel. A hope for better days that Nadal was able to seize to perhaps even find an extra soul that has never left him.
Unlike Novak Djokovic, whose supreme self-confidence is fascinating, the Spaniard needs tournaments and racking up matches to feel his best. But if he did not have the same certainties as usual, he compensated for them with a greater freshness. “Honestly, a month and a half ago, if you had said to me: ‘You will win the trophy again’, I would have said: ‘This year it will probably be too difficult.’ But now, in sport, things change very quickly. Doubts are good, it means you don’t consider yourself too good. Of course, it’s been a tough year for everyone. Of course my preparation for this tournament was not perfect. But I’ve been training on clay for a long time because I haven’t played in America. So yes, I had doubts but it’s true that my confidence level improved over the days during this tournament. “
Against all odds, perhaps the victory that most resembles him
In addition to the lack of pace and competition due to the suspension of the season, Nadal had to face other significant obstacles: new balls less lively than usual and heavy and wet clay due to a capricious weather which did not allow him to have optimal sensations. If he complained, the Mallorcan was able to cope with it, and fight as always. Maybe even like never before.
“The terms are not what I would have chosen to play at an event like this. But I was able to adapt. I knew how to stay positive by accepting all the challenges compared to the not great balls because of the cold, etc. I try to work with the right determination every day. I try to achieve my goals. I think it’s one of the Roland Garros that has more personal value for me. “
As special and sad in certain aspects as it is, this 13th title will therefore have captured what makes the essence of this extraordinary champion: the ability to constantly question oneself and to find in the challenges of the day a reason to do everything. to be better the next day. If Nadal had already won Roland Garros three times without losing a single set (2008, 2010 and 2017), circumstances may make this fourth clear round the greatest of all.
Towards a dead end at the end of the season?
Tenistically, the Mallorcan is undoubtedly more proud of himself than ever, but this success will not fill him like the others. And the Grand Slam record changes nothing. “Of course it’s an important day for me. But I’m not stupid, it’s still a very difficult and risky situation on a global scale. If you ask me what my feelings are of course I am very happy but on the other hand I am not so happy because of the situation which is difficult for most people around the world“, he also confided.
This brilliant success at Roland will perhaps encourage Nadal to turn the page of a very sad year 2020. “I don’t know if I want to keep moving forward on the normal schedule or if I stop until next year. This is something I have to assess. I’m not going to talk about it today because I don’t know if I’m going to go to the World Tour Finals (London Masters, Editor’s note). At the Australian Open, it will be necessary to observe forty before going on the court. You have to be smart and make the right decisions at all times“Because if he is happy to share the record with his friend Roger, Rafa would not be against surpassing his old rival in Melbourne. And it is fair game.