Making his first notable steps on the ATP Tour in 2003, Rafael Nadal became the youngest player in men's tennis. Endowed with enormous talent, physical strength and an iron will, it didn't take Rafa long to become one of the top players in the world and a Major champion as soon as he turned 19.
The Spaniard established himself as one of the most fearsome opponents to have on any surface, always giving his best and refusing to give up even in desperate situations. Throughout his career, Nadal has many times recovered from a match point down to emerge on top.
One such situation came against Stefanos Tsitsipas in that epic 2021 Barcelona Open final. After the match, Tsitsipas said that Nadal hates losing more than anyone else on Tour. The young Greek was inspired by that and did his best to keep up with that pace and stay competitive against the best clay court player in history.
Nadal responded that he doesn't hate to lose, accepting many tough losses throughout his career. For Rafa, the most important thing is to show the fighting spirit and give his best every time he enters the court. Furthermore, Nadal stated that he had to give it his all in such a big final, beating Stefanos 6-4, 6-7, 7-5 after three hours and 38 minutes of incredible tennis.
Tsitsipas survived two match points in the second set before stealing it in the tie break, pushing Nadal to the limit and creating that match point in the tenth game of the deciding set. Rafa saved it and won three games in a row to prevail and lift the 12th Barcelona Open title.
"The truth is that I don't hate losing, I like to win. Above all, I want to compete and work hard to achieve my goals."
Nastase reflects on Nadal
Rafael Nadal has made a remarkable comeback to the tour in 2022, after spending six months on the sidelines with a knee injury.
In a recent interview, former World No. 1 Ilie Nastase weighed in on the GOAT debate involving the three players. "It is clear that if the question is who has more great titles, the answer is Nadal," Nastase told MARCA.
"If we talk about the best ever there are other factors. Roger Federer has impressive talent...But there is no doubt that Rafa has 21 Grand Slams and Federer and Djokovic have not." Nastase further spoke about Federer and Djokovic's chances of adding to their tally.
The Romanian said that Federer's chances are diminishing, but that the Swiss should never be counted out. "He is playing very little lately, but he will always have a chance if he continues to play and reaches a final," Nastase said.