Although initially considered only a red clay specialist, Rafael Nadal has gradually proven to be extremely competitive on all surfaces, becoming the first player in history to hold (twice) three Slam titles on grass, hard court and red clay, and winning 10 Masters 1000, 5 Grand Slam titles and the Olympic gold medal on hard court.
Speaking in an interview with Stats Perform, Henri Leconte, a French Open runner-up in 1988, lauded Nadal's greatness and his drive to evolve his game. "When you think about it, 12 Roland Garros in 15 years," he explained.
"You don’t think it would be possible. If someone told you that, you’d say, ‘You’re crazy.’ What’s astonishing to me is how he evolved physically, how he changed his game, how he improved.
I like to compare him to an F1 racing team which is producing a new car every year, he is coming every year with a new way of playing and adapting. He works on his serve, on his right hand, his left hand, and he’s always changing some things.
He’s been able to improve every year which allowed him to win Roland Garros, this is amazing. And mentally, he’s out of this world. To play at his level at Roland Garros, under these circumstances, physically and mentally, I couldn’t even play one set like that.
During my time, [Sergi] Bruguera was a bit like him, and when I had to play him on clay, with my style, I knew it was over, I was about to run everywhere and get destroyed. Rafa is extraordinary. This is what’s impressive and people don’t realise how much he works" - Leconte added.
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