'The bigger chance to beat Rafael Nadal is in...', says former Top 5

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'The bigger chance to beat Rafael Nadal is in...', says former Top 5

Rafael Nadal has had to deal with many injuries during his long career. Still, no one expected to see him still competitive at 36. Never before has the Spanish phenomenon won the first two Slams of the season. The former world number 1 blew up the bank at the Australian Open, taking away the whim of coming back two sets behind Daniil Medvedev in the final.

The pain in his foot undermined his approach to Roland Garros, with premature exits in Madrid and Rome, but the Iberian never gave up. Thanks to a series of infiltrations and the help of Dr. Cotorro, the Manacor veteran raised his 14th trophy in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

Rafa thus hoisted himself to 22 Majors, further stretching Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in the all-time ranking. The Majorcan is training hard to get ready for Wimbledon, where he hasn't won since 2010. During a long interview with 'CLAY', Nikolay Davydenko commented on Nadal's extraordinary first part of the season.

Davydenko opens up on Rafa Nadal

"Usually, the bigger chance to beat Rafael Nadal in Paris is in the early rounds, because he is still not playing his best," Davydenko said. "It is amazing what he has done.

I think it was risky health-wise what he has done with the foot, but he is absolutely allowed to do it. Maybe his mentality was that it might be his last Roland Garros, so he went all-in not minding the consequences."

Davydenko also spoke about the difference between playing Nadal on clay and hardcourt. "For me, playing against Nadal on hard felt like playing against just another opponent," the Russian said. "I have beaten him in all our matches on hardcourt, but I lost every match on clay, which is expected, he is still winning Roland Garros.

There were many matches that I remember fondly." The former World No. 3 also recalled some victories against the likes of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. "I remember vividly beating Nadal in the Shanghai finals and Djokovic in the semifinals, in three sets – such a great memory!

Also, beating Federer in the semis in London (ATP Finals)… that was an unbelievable match for me," Davydenko said. Nadal can face Matteo Berrettini in the semi-finals before facing Djokovic in the final face-off.

Moreover, we can also see Matteo Berrettini or Stefanos Tsitsipas in another set of quarter-finals. We also have Felix Auger-Aliassime who could very well meet Rafael Nadal in the quarters.