Rafael Nadal pushed the limits again by winning the fourteenth title at Roland-Garros and a record 22nd Grand Slam trophy at the expense of Norwegian Casper Ruud (N.8), swept 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 on Sunday.
The Spaniard (N.5), 36 years old since Friday, but hampered by pain in his left foot, has become the longest-lived winner in history on Parisian clay. In the race for the record of major crowns, he is now two lengths ahead of his two historical rivals, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic (20 each).
His absolute dominance at the Parisian Grand Slam is unparalleled. In their favorite field of play, Djokovic, the Australian Open, and Federer, at Wimbledon, won “only” nine and eight times respectively.
Porte d’Auteuil, in the history of men’s tennis, no one other than Nadal has won more than six times (Björn Borg).
One more time, the last one? – The Majorcan left-hander proved to be stronger than pain, stronger than doubts, he who had arrived in Paris with uncertainties, after leaving Rome in mid-May limping and grimacing in pain because of his left foot, gnawed during more than fifteen years. by Müller-Weiss syndrome, necrosis of the scaphoid bone.
After a quiet first game of the tournament, Nadal emerged victorious from a grueling second week. Before the final against Ruud, he fought more than four hours against Félix-Auger Aliassime (N.9) in the round of 16 and Djokovic in the quarter-finals, then sweated profusely for more than three hours in the heat of the Central against Alexander Zverev .In the semifinals, before the abandonment of the number 3 in the world, he sprained his right ankle.
On Sunday afternoon against Ruud, under heavy skies but with the roof open, the venue owner made the best start by braking on entry and pocketing the first race in about forty minutes, still not putting on his best game.
His dominance only increased when the weather cleared and the sun warmed the Parisian ochre, favoring his devastating forehand.
In the second set, the 23-year-old Norwegian took a good lead of 3 games to 1, but his lead was gone in a few minutes. Nadal inflicted a scathing 10-0 on him from there, to win in 2:18, seventeen years after his first coronation in 2005.
And now Nadal has sown, during his press conferences in the Paris fortnight, doubts about his future.
“I have what I have on my foot. If we are not able to find a solution or an improvement, it will be very difficult for me”, he said after his impressive victory against Djokovic.
“Every match I play here, I am aware that it may be the last in this tournament,” he said two days earlier.
Waiting for him to reveal more, his record in the final on clay in Paris remains impeccable: fourteen wins, none lost. And he has still only lost three matches at Roland-Garros, for 112 wins in 115 played.
“Making my foot fall asleep was the only way”
‘Sleep on the foot was the only way’: Rafael Nadal revealed on Sunday after his 14me He that was crowned at Roland-Garros having played with his left foot numb so as not to suffer the pain that is increasingly harming him.
The rest of his career now depends on the success of another, less extreme treatment that he plans to try “next week.”
Q: How did you manage to control the pain during the tournament?
A: The only thing that could be done to give me a chance here was to put my foot to sleep. That’s what we did. We blocked (the pain) by injecting anesthesia before each game. Suddenly, I played without pain, but without any feeling or sensitivity, as if the dentist pulled my teeth. It’s that easy.
Q: How do you envision the sequel?
A: “Obviously I cannot and do not want to continue playing under these circumstances. Roland-Garros is Roland-Garros, everyone knows what this tournament means to me. I wanted to give myself a chance here, it was the only way, so I did it. “But I can’t keep playing with my foot asleep. Knowing that the injections worked well, next week we will do a treatment on the same two nerves. The intervention consists of pulsed radiofrequency injections (applying an electrical current to the nerve, editor’s note) that could help reduce the sensation of permanent pain in the foot. The goal is to “deactivate” the nerve, not in such an exaggerated way as now that it is completely asleep, but let’s say half, in a more lasting way. You have to have confidence.
Q: What if it doesn’t work?
A: That will be another story. There are different options, including an operation, but it is a life choice that I am not ready to make yet. We have to see if it is worth it or if it no longer makes sense. To consider an operation that could improve the situation, but that would not guarantee me at all that I would be able to continue, I will have to understand everything (…) But I look to the future with optimism, I hope that the things that ‘we are going to make work, and from From there, I hope to continue, because I am going through a good moment, unexpected at this stage of my career. I enjoy the gift of continuing to play at my age, which I never would have imagined ten years ago.
Q: How do your last two Australian Open and Roland-Garros titles rank among your 22 Grand Slam trophies?
A: Having this trophy with me again is worth all the gold in the world. These two victories were very emotional, no doubt because they were quite unexpected. So yes, I am very happy. I had a great two weeks (at Roland-Garros), improving day by day until I played a good final. Especially since he had a complicated paintings. But I managed to beat four Top 10 players (Auger-Aliasssime, Djokovic, Zverev, and Ruud). It is a tournament that has great value in terms of the level of tennis. It’s hard to describe my emotions. Lifting the trophy is already a big thing. But if we also take into account the previous months, mentally they are blows that I have taken… After six months without competing, I started the year phenomenally and when everything seemed to be going extraordinarily well, I ended up with a broken rib that sidelined me for a good portion of the season on dirt and made me miss so much training. And when I came back, what reappeared was the foot problem.
Q: What keeps motivating you?
A: It’s not about being the best in history. It is not a matter of records. I like what I do. I like to play tennis and I like competition. We achieved our dreams Roger, Novak, and I. We have achieved things that we probably never expected. What drives me to continue is not the race for who is the best or who has won the most Grand Slam tournaments. What moves me is the passion for this sport, these moments that I live and that I will keep all my life, these matches in front of the best crowd and the best stadiums in the world. Of course, if I didn’t feel competitive, I wouldn’t like it.
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