Former World No. 2 Alex Corretja recalled some of his early experiences with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal during the Eurosport's Tennis Legends vodcast with Mats Wilander. The former French Open finalist Alex Corretja shared some of the early experiences he had with Federer and Nadal as they were coming up on the tour.
"When they first started on the tour, you know, I played with Roger several times, and I realised already that he can turn around and just go for it all of a sudden. His serve was great, his footwork, but you could see that he was still improving."
Alex Corretja on Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal
"With Rafa, I hit with him one morning at 9 am in Barcelona, and he was waiting for me with a sleeveless [shirt] and waiting to hit the first ball. I was wearing like a scarf and a hat and everything, like, so cold, and the first ball I threw to him, he went like, boom!
He was only 16 years old. So I stopped and I said, 'How can you hit the first ball so hard?' Corretja also said that the success and longevity of the Big Three - Federer, Nadal and Novak Djokovic, was due to their mindset and desire to be the best in history.
"They are thinking like, 'Why can't I be the best in the history?', so that's what I think is giving them this sort of feeling, their passion and the love they have for the game - but also the fact that they can become the greatest, I believe.
They believe that they can be the best in history. They realised that they could be even better than people like Mats Wilander, or Guga Kuerten or Boris Becker or Ivan Lendl." Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are all in the race for most number of Grand Slam singles titles in history.
Federer leads the race with 20 Grand Slams, followed by Nadal with 19 and Djokovic with 17 majors. Djokovic is the current World No. 1, followed by Nadal at No. 2 with Federer coming in at No. 4. Alex Corretja finished runner-up twice at the French Open in 1998 and 2001 and won the ATP Tour World Championships in 1998. He also helped Spain win their first-ever Davis Cup title in 2000.