World number 5 Casper Ruud believes that Rafael Nadal's mental strength is "extraordinary" and that this is one of the main reasons behind the enormous success that the Spaniard has had throughout his career. Nadal, 36, claimed a record 22nd Grand Slam title after beating Casper Ruud in the French Open final 6-3, 6-3, 6-0.
"If you look at most of the players on tour, they probably have a good mental attitude, but I think one of the most extraordinary would be Nadal, seeing how he plays every match, how he handles different situations, how reckless he is on the court, that is something that is needed in sport, in tennis especially, I think that is part of the reason why it has been so successful," Ruud told the LTA.
After losing the first set, Ruud took a 3-1 lead in the second. Nadal went on to win the next 11 games and finished the French Open final losing a total of six games. "Well, I wish I knew the answers too, but I got a cheap break I think in the second set and was up 3-1, and of course I wanted to get on with the match and maybe try to win the set," Ruud said.
"But then he stepped up and showed that when he needs it he plays very well. It was difficult for me to know where to play the ball. When you play defense against Rafa on clay, he eats you alive."
Pau Gasol on Rafa Nadal
Former Los Angeles Lakers star Pau Gasol recently met Rafael Nadal in Barcelona.
Nadal was in the city to receive treatment for his chronic foot injury. "The injury is complex and goes beyond healthy habits. You have to be patient," he said. Gasol also expressed hope for his "friend" to find a way past his injury to compete and also live a healthier life.
"Rafa matters to me as a friend. I hope he can solve the injury, not only to continue competing, but for his quality of life. We talk about health." Roig revealed that the Mallorcan's injury worsens in colder temperatures. However, he added that he had faith in the latest course of pain relief treatment recommended to the 36-year-old.
"Rafa's problems worsen with the cold. But she (doctor) hopes the new pain relief treatment will work. We will have to wait. I think it's 2 or 3 sessions and Rafa will be delighted, so will we. He will live painlessly for a while," Roig said.