The 2023 edition of the Roland Garros will officially begin on Sunday. The French Open, the second major event of the year, after the Australian Open, has always been synonymous with great entertainment, battles and stories to tell.
That of Rafael Nadal, who won 14 times in Paris, cannot be written this year. A week ago, the Spanish champion communicated his painful withdrawal from the tournament, causing great pain and sadness to his fans, who will still have to wait to see him again on the court.
Mats Wilander, three times champion of the Parisian Major, is convinced that even his rivals, Novak Djokovic in the first place, are not happy with his absence: "I think that in a certain sense he is disappointed not to be able to play against Rafa on these court.
I think Djokovic is probably the most disappointed player of all in the tournament. He definitely wanted to win the 23rd French Open, his third, beating Rafa Nadal”.
Mats Wilander and the GOAT issue
He then admits that if Novak were to win again, he would be considered the greatest ever: "I hope Rafa and Novak end up with the same number of Grand Slams, and then Roger Federer will still be quoted in the same sentence as the greatest ever.
If we count the greatest only in terms of Grand Slam tournaments, then I would say that it is very likely that Novak will be the scapegoat. Of course, if he wins Paris in 20 days, he becomes the big favorite to win Wimbledon.
If he takes that one too, he suddenly finds himself with three majors in a row. We're talking about someone who is that great because he would have a chance to win the Calendar Grand Slam." Wilander also admitted a sense of jealousy towards the Serbian, so close to a historic feat: "All of us ex-players feel envious right now for the confidence Novak must have in owning 22 Grand Slams.
The fact that he could become the greatest player of all time in the next 20 days must be so beautiful, so nerve-racking in a way. It will certainly not be his last chance. But it would be kind of ironic if he broke the record by winning Rafa's tournament."
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