Ex top-100 star names Rafael Nadal win over Novak Djokovic that summed up one thing

Jean-Rene Lisnard reflects on Nadal's career and reputation the Spaniard has created for himself.

by Dzevad Mesic
Ex top-100 star names Rafael Nadal win over Novak Djokovic that summed up one thing
© Getty Images Sport - Ryan Pierse

Former Monegasque tennis player Jean-Rene Lisnard described Nadal as "a whole package" and opined that the Spaniard's 2022 French Open win over Novak Djokovic was the match where his character was shown the best. 

Lisnard, who achieved his career ranking of No. 84 in 2003, was enjoying his best tennis days when Nadal just showed up on the tennis scene. And in 2004, Lisnard got a chance to play against Nadal in a doubles match at an ATP tournament in Chennai. 

That year, Nadal was playing doubles with former top-10 Spanish player Tommy Robredo, while Lisnard's doubles partner was Thierry Ascione. Before the match, Lisnard didn't know much about Nadal but after the Spanish duo claimed a 6-1 5-7 6-2 win, the Monegasque realized what type of a player Nadal was and how much physicality he was bringing to the court. 

In 2006, Lisnard also got a chance to play Nadal in singles when the Spaniard ousted him 6-4 6-1 in the Monte Carlo Masters second round.

"It was in India, and I played it in doubles. I realized that he was really pushing himself physically. He was on point about everything, that's what struck me," Lisnard said for We Love Tennis Magazine.

Jean-Rene Lisnard
Jean-Rene Lisnard © Getty Images Sport - Ian Walton

Nadal, who clinched his first Grand Slam title in his French Open debut in 2005, quickly became one of the most popular players in the game - and he was not just popular among fans, but he was also very liked in the locker room. Now, Nadal is widely recognized as one of the biggest ambassadors tennis has had and he will go down as one of the most popular and beloved players in tennis history.

When asked why young players have always found Nadal as someone to look up to, Lisnard had a prepared answer. 

"It's a package. There is his game, of course, which radiates a lot of energy, but also, at the start of his career, his look with his long hair, his capri pants. And then he's a winner and we obviously like this idea more than that of the loser," Lisnaird said.

Lisnard on Nadal's 2022 French Open win over Djokovic

Going into the 2022 French Open, Nadal was dealing with major foot issues caused by his Mueller-Weiss syndrome and his participation was in doubt. But with the help of painkillers and anesthesia injections he was taking every six hours, Nadal was able to play at the French Open that year. But still, the Spaniard was very humble in his expectations as he was constantly saying that he was in a tough position and he also declared Djokovic the favorite for their match.

But with the odds against him, Nadal managed to deliver a huge performance and beat Djokovic 6-2 4-6 6-2 7-6 (4) in the quarterfinal before going on to win a record 14th French Open title. That win was just another testament to Nadal's competitiveness and his incredible fighting spirit.

"Honestly, I want to say no. Because Nadal is all the time, every day, all the matches and all the points. But if I were forced to choose one, it would be his quarter-final at Roland-Garros against Novak Djokovic in 2022. everything came together and the level was incredible. Afterwards, it is also the most recent, perhaps that is why I cite it, because I am sure there are others," Lisnard said when asked to name a match that sums up Nadal's character.

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic © Getty Images Sport - Ryan Pierse

Lisnard on what is impressive about Nadal and what he'd do if he was his coach

When asked to name the most impressive thing in Nadal's game, Lisnard said it was tough to name one thing because he believes "everything" about the Spaniard is impressive. 

"Actually, none, because everything is impressive. It’s the character, it’s the density. And I would like to point out the fact that he has never worked with a mental trainer. In fact, Rafael Nadal is excessive, but it is also linked to his education and the incredible tandem he formed with his uncle," Lisnard added.

Lisnard, who once reached a Grand Slam third round at the 2005 Australian Open, retired from pro tennis in 2013 at the age of 33. Since then, he has launched the Elite Tennis Center in Cannes, where he teaches tennis. And that led to Lisnard being asked how he would try to help Nadal if he was his coach.

"Difficult question, because all the coaches in the world would have liked to have Nadal as a player. At the same time, Toni did such a great job! He was very demanding. And it is this effort from the first to the last day which made the difference and which shaped Nadal as a legend, there is no miracle," Lisnard explained.

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Meanwhile, Nadal is skipping the entire grass season as he is practicing on clay and preparing for Bastad, which starts on July 15th. After using Bastad as a preparation for the Paris Olympics, Nadal will go to the French capital for his final Olympic appearance.

Rafael Nadal Novak Djokovic