Players who have been able to beat Rafael Nadal on red clay can be counted almost on the fingers of one hand. The Spanish phenomenon, twelve times Roland Garros champion, has made only 39 defeats on his favorite surface along a career that started 19 years ago.
Former World number 6 Nicolas Lapentti succeeded in this feat back in 2003, when he was able to reassemble a then 17-year-old Nadal at the 'Swedish Open' in Bastad. The Majorcan would take revenge in the next two matches.
The Ecuadorian, who turned professional six years before Rafa, has always regretted not having had a longer rivalry with the 19-time Grand Slam champion. Interviewed by Radio Huancavilca, Lapentti told how difficult it was to face Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Nadal himself in the era of their domination.
Lapentti on Rafael Nadal
“I always competed with Rafael Nadal but we were from different times. If we had been at the same time, the quality would have been more,” Nicolas Lapentti said. “I think of those three I stay with Roger and Rafael, because Novak reached his highest peak at another age,” he said.
Lapentti now hopes that Nadal can make it to Ecuador for the exhibition event whenever the global situation improves. “The idea for this year was for Nadal to come, we have to hope that everything improves in the health area, to hold such events,” Lapentti said.
In recent days, the cancellation of the Washington tournament was announced, which should have sanctioned the resumption of the men's circuit. He looks forward to knowing the fate of the Masters 1000 in Cincinnati and above all of the US Open, also considering the problem of the quarantine for Europeans returning from the United States.
The impression is that a definitive answer will arrive by the end of July. Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Open and US Open are still scheduled to take place back-to-back in New York from August 20, despite several leading figures in men's tennis casting doubts over the hardcourt Grand Slam.
"This decision in no way impacts the US Open or the Western & Southern Open," the United States Tennis Association (USTA) said in a statement. "The USTA will create a safe and controlled environment for players and everyone else involved in both tournaments that mitigates health risks."
It added: "We constantly base our decisions regarding hosting these tournaments on our three guiding principles that include safety and health of all involved, whether hosting these events are in the best interest in the sport of tennis and whether this decision is financially viable."