In the history of tennis, no player has managed to win every Grand Slam title at least twice. The closest to achieving this result were certainly the Big Three, consisting of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. On many occasions they have competed in the final to conquer this particular record, the last time it happened at the recent Roland Garros 2020 where Novak Djokovic was defeated in the final by the "King of Clay" and thirteen times winner in Paris Rafael Nadal, clearly dominant of that match.
To reach this record, Rafael Nadal only misses the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the year where Rafa has often struggled and where he won his only title in the now distant 2009. In 2021 Rafa will once again have the chance to achieving this record but that of 2009 was in any case a historic undertaking.
In a recent interview with Marca, Russian player Andrey Rublev reflected on Rafael Nadal's historic tally of 13 French Open titles, claiming that a record like that makes everyone else also aspire for greatness. The Russian played Nadal at the recent Nitto ATP Finals in London, but was beaten by the Spaniard in straight sets.
Rublev on his passion for Rafael Nadal
"What comes to mind is that if someone is capable of winning a Grand Slam 13 times, you have to try to win it at least once," Andrey Rublev said. "I couldn't handle the pressure (playing Rafael Nadal at the ATP Finals)," he added.
"When I showed my emotions from the beginning of the game, I knew that I was finished." Despite being firmly entrenched in the top 10, Rublev still feels he needs to earn his place among the sport's elite. The Russian hopes to maintain his ranking for a couple of years so that he can be considered in the same breath as the other mainstays at the top.
"I feel like I'm a top 10 guest," Rublev said. "To really feel like one of them, I have to find consistency and that means being in that position for a couple of years. It can be said that Thiem, Zverev or Medvedev have deserved to be there."
Only recently, the 20 times Grand Slam champion won the 2020 ATP Sportsmanship Award for his professionalism and integrity. Being the right example for the next generation has always been one of the highest priorities for Rafael Nadal.
The 39 years-old Spaniard said, “I have been trying my whole life to transmit values that are positive. They have tried to educate me so that it is so and I hope they are values that help some young people to grow in the appropriate way”.