Joyful Nadal relieves Djokovic and Federer in a race to be the biggest French Open 2022

meIn the build-up to the quarterfinals of Rafael Nadal’s French Open with Novak Djokovic last Tuesday, some doubt surrounded Nadal ahead of his biggest challenge. He was not in particularly good shape, barely surviving Felix Auger-Aliassime in the fourth round. He played catch up after his recent rib strain fracture and competed after his chronic foot disease flared up. The match was scheduled for the night where his heavy top spin could be castrated in cold, slow conditions.

The outcome of that match and everything that followed, with Nadal rising to win his 14th French Open title and the 22nd Grand Slam, further underscores what he has long shown. No matter his age, his own preparations, or the revelation that he played a two-week tournament with part of his foot under anesthesia, Nadal’s dominance at Roland Garros surpasses everything.

At the end of last season, when Djokovic endured one match of winning his fourth grand slam of the year at the US Open, he optimally positioned himself to break the three-way tie of 20 majors and establish himself as the all-time men’s. leader. Instead, Nadal has now created a clear buffer between himself and his rivals, and he is halfway to the one-season grand slam.

This would be an important point of view if not for how Nadal continued to downplay it. When he followed Roger Federer, he used the same analogy dozens of times. “You can’t be frustrated all the time because the neighbor has a bigger house than you,” he said three years ago.

To his credit Nadal was consistent, even now that his own grand slam transport is greater than that of those neighbors. He now says that these debates are not so important because he, Djokovic and Federer have each achieved things beyond their wildest dreams and have reached a “very equal” level. His daily motivation comes from elsewhere.

Rafael Nadal plays through the pain bar in his epic quarter-final win over Novak Djokovic against Roland Garros.
Rafael Nadal plays through the painful barrier in his epic quarter-final win over Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros. Photo: Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

“It’s about how much you enjoy doing what you do or if you don’t enjoy it, then that’s another story, right?” he said. “But if you like what you do, keep going. Because, for example, if you like to go and play golf, you keep playing golf. If I like to play tennis and if I can keep playing, I keep playing because I like what I do. So here it is. ”

In Spanish, Nadal magnified that feeling: “I’ve said that a million times but I don’t get tired of saying it. The best satisfaction is always personal, more than a medal or something. Knowing that you’re striving to achieve your goals. Sometimes you “But you have the inner peace to come home with the certainty that you’ve tried everything.”

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Despite the joy with which Nadal plays, enjoying an unexpected “golden” moment so deeply in his career, it is at the same time full of uncertainty. This contrast was especially striking in his press conference, where he sat with the trophy La Coupe des Mousquetaires next to him after one of the great triumphs of his career, yet for 40 minutes through two languages ​​he mostly explained, in as vast a detail as he did. once discussed injury why he is so uncertain about his future because of the Müller-Weiss syndrome he suffers in his foot.

Even Nadal has a limit to the pain he is willing to work on to succeed, so he is not ready to block the nerves in his foot again to relieve the pain. He is now looking for a solution, starting with the radiofrequency ablation he will try in the coming weeks and then major surgery, which he says he needs to consider if that fails. In an interview with Onda Cero Radioestadio in Spanish, he was clear: “It may still be my last Roland Garros, but I will do my best to move forward.”

Nadal vows to “keep fighting” after winning the 14th French Open title – video

The foundation of Nadal’s success so far has been his attitude; his acceptance of every circumstance, the optimism and calmness with which he deals with unhappiness and the prospect which he has kept under pressure. At 36, it takes on a different role. It will both guide him as he tries to extend his career as long as possible, but also when he recognizes that he has reached his limits.

“My clear position is always that life rules,” he said. “Of course my tennis career has been a priority all my life, but it has never been a priority over my happiness.”

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