Rafael Nadal should travel to Paris this week, seeking his 14th Roland Garros crown in the next 20 days. Despite a foot injury, Rafa still hopes to play at a high level in his beloved Major and chase the title he lost to Novak Djokovic a year ago.
Last May, Roland Garros organizers honored Nadal's incredible results in Paris by unveiling a statue of him at the Stade Roland Garros complex. Rafa had his first training session with Karen Khachanov on the Philippe-Chatrier court before receiving a huge honour.
FFT President Gilles Moretton and sculptor Jordi Díez Fernández, one of Spain's leading artists, were also featured at the ceremony celebrating one of the greatest players of all time and his achievements at Roland Garros.
Along with Nadal, the aviator Roland Garros and the famous 'Four Musketeers' Jean Borotra, Jacques Brugnon, Henri Cochet and René Lacoste have also received their statues in one of the essential complexes of the world of tennis.
The statue is made entirely of stainless steel and is three meters high, 4.89 meters wide and two meters deep. It shows Nadal as he strikes his trademark forehand that has brought him so much success over the past two decades.
Nadal claimed the first Roland Garros crown on his debut in 2005, defeating Roger Federer and Mariano Puerta on his way to tennis glory. The Spaniard was the player to beat in Paris for the next three years, knocking out Federer in three straight finals to claim four titles at the age of 22.
Rafa added five more Roland Garros crowns to his tally between 2010 and 2014, making him the most dominant player at a single Major with nine trophies to his credit.
Annacone speaks about Nadal
Speaking on a recent podcast hosted by Tennis Channel, Paul Annacone heaped immense praise on Rafael Nadal.
"The hardest thing in sports is beating Rafa Nadal in 3 out of 5 sets on clay," said Annacone. "I still think that's the most difficult thing to do." Annacone also expressed his admiration for Rafael Nadal's work ethic.
"There's no way you can't say that he (Rafael Nadal) is not with the best in every sport that's ever played," the former World No. 12 continued. "I've never seen anyone that has tried harder for every shot that they've hit.
You can just walk by or turn on the TV and watch him practice, and it's the same thing. Every ball is hit like his life depends on it."