Rafael Nadal hoped to achieve better results in 2021. The Spanish champion had to settle for a couple of trophies (Barcelona and Rome), while failing instead with his 14th seal at Roland Garros. A foot injury did not allow the 35-year-old Majorcan to reach 100% in Paris, where he hoped to score the 21st Grand Slam of his amazing career.
Having reached the semifinals, the former world number 1 had to surrender to a great Novak Djokovic (who would later win the title). Having played an excellent first set, the 20-time Grand Slam champion dropped to the distance as he had few times before.
It is no coincidence that Rafa then decided to give up Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics, in order to ease his foot pain. The Iberian tried a timid return to Washington, but soon realized he had to raise the white flag. In a recent interview with 'Number Web', Nadal analyzed his 'campaign' at Roland Garros 2021.
Rafael Nadal opens up on Djokovic
"I think Novak was more efficient and clever than I was in the game-decision phase that day, and in my eyes he looked physically fresher," Rafael Nadal said. "I wanted to win the championship for as long as possible, but it was interrupted.
I have no regrets about it," he added. "I am burning to make the French Open my tournament again next year. " Nadal also revealed that the clay season took its toll on his aging body, forcing him to take a short break from the tour.
"In mid-June, when I lost to Novak Djokovic in the French Open semi-finals, I realized I was tired," said the Spaniard. "I decided to take a short break to recover. I'm not 20 years old. It's important not to push yourself to the limit to prevent injury."
Interestingly, Djokovic and Nadal have faced each other 58 times on the court in their careers so far. Even though the Serbian currently leads the head-to-head battle with 30 triumphs, Rafa is not far behind with 28 victories.
Intriguingly, Djoker is the only player who has been successful in battling past Nadal twice at the French Open. As of now, Rafael Nadal has already ended his 2021 season due to injury. On the other hand, Novak Djokovic is likely to feature at the ATP Finals 2021 soon.
Will he be able to end the year as the World No.1 player? "He's (Novak Djokovic) a perfect tennis player with no weaknesses," Rafael Nadal said. "Whether it's a clay court, a turf court, or a hard court, he's capable.
And this year, he's been astoundingly solid. Even on days when things seem to be out of order, the energy of the feeling that I will definitely win makes up."