'Even when you win the first set, you know that Rafael Nadal...', says ATP legend

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'Even when you win the first set, you know that Rafael Nadal...', says ATP legend

Rafael Nadal scored his 1000th victory on the ATP circuit by beating compatriot Feliciano Lopez on his debut in the Masters 1000 in Paris-Bercy. Thanks to this painful comeback, the Spanish phenomenon has entered a very small group of legends that includes Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer and Ivan Lendl.

The former world number 1, chasing his first title in the Bercy arena, got rid of the Australian Jordan Thompson in the round of 16, nullifying a dangerous set point in the second set. Despite the very long suspension due to the global pandemic, 2020 was still a great season for Rafa, who thanks to his 13th triumph at Roland Garros finally equaled Roger Federer's record by crowning his chase.

In a recent interview, current Barcelona tournament director David Ferrer explained what makes Nadal a special player on and off the court. The 20-time Grand Slam champion's goal is to try and win the ATP Finals for the first time in his immense career.

Ferrer on Rafael Nadal

“From before you go out on court it is already a roller coaster, because Rafael Nadal’s already warming up and jumping and on a mental level it is a little deflating. You know that he will make you play until the final point.

Rafa is mentally the best there has ever been. I can’t speak of other players I didn’t play with, but of the ones I’ve seen, there is no equal,” David Ferrer said. The former World No. 3 went into more detail as to why Rafa is a mental giant.

He said: “Even when you win the first set, which was very rarely for me, you know that Rafa will come back… I’ve never seen him lose his head, I’ve never seen a match in which you don’t have to beat Rafa right up to the last point.

That says a lot about him, because he is the best in history in terms of preparation, mentality and never giving up. He always looks for a solution”. He has still won his first two matches in the tournament though, and although he is not yet firing on all cylinders he believes it’s just a matter of time.

“I think I am not doing a lot of things badly,” Rafael Nadal said after his third-round win over Jordan Thompson. “I just didn’t play indoors for a year almost, and is part of the process of course. I need to keep going.

I think these kind of matches helps. Yesterday’s match, today’s, tomorrow another opportunity. Positive thing, I think I only faced one break-point with my serve during the whole match [against Thompson] but it was a set point, and a tough one”.