(CNN) – After winning 14 French Open titles, the sports world is running out of super formulas described by Rafael Nadal.
For an athlete to be so successful in a single event is unprecedented, while Nadal also distinguished himself from Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic by winning 22 Grand Slam titles to his opponent’s 20.
“There are no words to describe this feat,” Federer’s coach said:Ivan Ljubicic, after the Spaniard beat Casper Ruud in the French Open final on Sunday.
“I don’t think that good old Philippe (Chatrier) would care that his court change its name to a statue of Rafael Nadal: (a) a statue is not enough.”
But Nadal, who has always been ready to belittle his achievements, believes his record at Roland Garros could one day be surpassed.
“I’ve always considered myself a very normal guy; if I did, maybe someone else could,” he told CNN reporter Christian Amanpour on Monday.
“Obviously setting 22 grand slams is very likely that someone will be able to increase that record. I’m sure it will happen; 14 Roland Garros is something… very difficult.”
In the 17 years between Nadal’s first and his last French Open title, he has lost just three matches on Paris: two against Djokovic, one in last year’s semi-finals and one against Robin Soderling.
With Sunday’s win, Nadal, who turned 36 on Friday, became the oldest men’s champion at Roland Garros, and it was also the first time he won the Australian Open and the French Open in the same calendar year, allowing him to overtake a title. Records of Federer and Djokovic in the Grand Slam.
“Of course, I want to be the player with (the biggest) grand slam in history, this competition,” Nadal said.
“But it’s not something that obsess over me and it’s not something that would make me change my mind… Honestly, it’s something that doesn’t bother me if Novak wins at 23 and I stay at 22. I think my happiness wouldn’t change at all, not even one percent.”
The events leading up to this year’s French Open are likely to make this title look particularly special, no less likely, for Nadal.
At last month’s Italian Open, he pulled out of the tournament against Denis Shapovalov in the round of 16 while struggling with a foot injury, an ongoing problem that Nadal said required daily injections at the French Open in order to continue playing and training.
This means he played the final without any feeling of his footing.
“After the pandemic, something happened to my feet. I couldn’t stand the pain to play often and even train,” said Nadal, who has health issues. injuries Throughout his career.
“The only thing I can say is that while going through all these challenges, I always keep my passion to keep playing and I always keep my passion for the game,” he added. “I’ve always wanted to move on. Maybe that’s why I’m in the situation I’m in today.”
At a news conference on Sunday, Nadal said he would have a “radio frequency injection” into a nerve in his foot in an effort to ease the pain and continue playing.
Whether he will compete at Wimbledon later this month depends on the success of that treatment, and at the moment, his long-term future in the sport is unclear.
“I have never considered (plans) to announce any withdrawal after this event, but of course there is a possibility that things will not improve,” he said. “Then I don’t know what could happen.”
Is the “King of Clay” now only “King”?
Winning his first two Grand Slam titles this year means Nadal, for the first time in his career, is likely to win major titles by winning Wimbledon and the US Open in the same year.
Djokovic came in in a match that ended last year, a feat no player has achieved since Rod Laver in 1969.
“The odds are slim in this healthy state,” tennis journalist Christopher Cleary told CNN Sports reporter Christina MacFarlane on Monday about Nadal’s prospect of winning the next Grand Slam.
“Wimbledon is no longer his best surface; he hasn’t won in a long time. But how can he not try it if he’s healthy?”
Even if the number of Grand Slam wins did not increase, it would be impossible to question Nadal’s place as one of the greatest to have ever played the sport. Over time, the ‘King of Clay’ may be mentioned simply as ‘The King’.
“I made my dream come true and I enjoy what I’m doing,” said Nadal, who is still not interested in his ranking among his peers.
“I know the press and people have always cared a lot about these things, but in a way, I’m such an important part of the history of the sport and it makes me proud and happy.”
“In the end, it doesn’t matter much.”
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