Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have been able to monopolize tennis for over a decade and a half. The 34-year-old Spaniard has scored 19 Grand Slam titles, ended the year at the top of the world ranking on five different occasions and has the most successes in a single Major (12 at Roland Garros).
His successes, coupled with the enormous popularity gained off the field, have made Majorcan an authentic global icon. The last Spanish legend capable of affecting so much had been Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, who never hid her admiration for the former number 1 in the world.
If he were to triumph at the US Open or Roland Garros, Nadal would equal the Slam's all-time record held by eternal rival Roger Federer (crowning a very long chase in this world).
Sanchez Vicario on Rafael Nadal
He's a fighting person, like me," Arantxa Sanchez Vicario said. "We never give up on the court, we have that winning character, he is an excellent player and an excellent person, a champion!" - she added.
During her career, Arantxa won 14 Grand Slam titles: four in singles, six in women's doubles, and four in mixed doubles. In 1994, she was crowned the ITF World Champion for the year. "I started to appear on the covers of newspapers, they gave my games on television, Spain collapsed following a 17-year-old girl who was capable of anything," Sanchez Vicario said.
"Now Nadal monopolizes everything, but it is also easier because there are many more means of communication. The comparisons with Rafa are nice, of course, I think we were both benchmarks on our circuit and we helped put Spain on top.
It is a satisfaction that people value your work," she said. Sanchez Vicario also talked about Roland Garros: "It changes a lot, starting because the days are shorter, there are fewer daylight hours, although this year they already have a roof on the main track.
The bounce of the ball will not be the same, but it is still clay," Sanchez Vicario said. "There are very few players who can compete with Rafa in these conditions and I am sure that she will be the great favorite again to lift the champion title," Sanchez Vicario concluded.
It won’t be surprising if Nadal skips the US Open to compete in the clay tournaments. For now, there is no confirmation about his participation but he will be closely analyzing this with his team.