Rafael Nadal did not disappoint, taking his thirteenth title at Roland Garros and confirming his leadership on clay. Nobody like him, nobody even similar to tell the truth: Nadal is unique in the history of tennis, perhaps unattainable for posterity.
The Majorcan managed his forces in the best possible way, proving he can perform at his best on any surface and surprising for what he built at the ATP Finals. There are no more words to describe Nadal's contribution to modern tennis, but an 'icon' makes the most of what he has become for the world of sport.
Rafael Nadal's uncle Toni reflected on the 34-year-old's loss to Medvedev in his new column for El Pais.
Uncle Toni on Nadal's defeat at the ATP Finals
"Rafael Nadal's defeat against Daniil Medvedev in Saturday's semifinals at the Nitto ATP Finals was painful, given the magnitude and importance of the tournament and, above all, because a great opportunity slipped away: a cup that he has never been able to lift, having deployed all week tennis of the highest level," Uncle Toni said.
However, Toni did praise his nephew for his change in tactics during the first set. Despite the fact that he was on the backfoot from the start, Rafael Nadal found a way to outsmart Medvedev in the crunch moments to take the early lead in the match.
"The match was eminently tactical. In the opening games, the Russian, supported by a great service, was clearly superior. And even so, he did not get away on the scoreboard. He was winning his services quite forcefully, while Rafael (Nadal) had to suffer to keep his, until the middle of the first set.
The surprising fact is that Daniil chained the first 16 aces consecutively, something that I had never seen in any of the matches that my nephew has played throughout his career," Toni said. "In the second half of this first set, Rafael made the right decision to change strategy and stopped playing his usual game to cut mostly his backhand and play more in the center of the court," Rafael Nadal's uncle added.
"The intention was, clearly, to neutralize the attack of his rival, who returned insufferable blows if the track was opened. After not being able to score that conclusive game, he lost the set in the tie break and then, judging by the impression he gave me, the fatigue suffered and he was no longer able to maintain the same intensity in the rest of the match," Toni went on.
"This is how, as has happened on other occasions, Rafael could not finish a magnificent season with the finishing touch that would mean crowning himself master of masters," said Toni.