Rafael Nadal clinched his 13th title at Roland Garros last week after leaving Novak Djokovic just seven games in the final. The Spanish phenomenon lifted the trophy for the fourth time without losing a single set, with the young Italian Jannik Sinner the only opponent capable of taking him to the limit.
Although at first glance one can imagine that it was a walk for the Majorcan, in reality the ride of the former World number 1 was anything but normal this year. The Coronavirus emergency has in fact induced the organizers to move the tournament to autumn, generating significant differences compared to the traditional location in May-June.
The cold weather, combined with the debut of the new Wilson balls in place of the Babolat, seemed suitable factors to undermine Rafa's dominance in the Parisian Grand Slam. Many experts believed that the Iberian would be damaged by the unprecedented conditions before Nadal denied everyone and equaled Roger Federer at 20 Majors.
In a long interview granted to L’Equipe, Mats Wilander sincerely praised the 34-year-old from Manacor for showing tremendous versatility and adaptability.
Wilander on Rafael Nadal
"In the famous GOAT debate, some people sometimes belittle Rafael Nadal's position because of his predominance on clay,” Mats Wilander said.
“But by winning under these conditions this year, with clay so heavy he sent a strong message," Wilander added. "He said: 'Hey guys, you see I don't need the ball to bounce that high. I don't need 30 degrees, I just need a tennis court to win a Grand Slam'"
Rafael Nadal remains 1,890 points behind Novak Djokovic in ATP rankings released Monday despite having beaten him for a 13th French Open title at the weekend. Behind the Roland Garros finalists lie Austrian Dominic Thiem, who reached the quarter-finals in Paris, and Roger Federer, who has been sidelined from tournament play since the Australian Open in January.
The biggest mover in the top 20 was Argentina's Diego Schwartzman, who made the semi-finals in Paris and moves up six places to a career-high eighth. "Like everyone, I’ve had some good times and some bad, times of enthusiasm and times of disillusion, above all when there were more physical issues than normal.
I’ve been lucky to have a fantastic environment around me, a family and a team that have been with me throughout my career. I have a stable personality, I’m not overexcited when things go well, and nor am I excessively negative when they go wrong.
That helps me to experience things with peace of mind in order to continue. In the end, it all comes down to something simpler: the passion you are born with" - the former World number 1 explained.