Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic stand on 58 Major crowns ahead of this week's Roland Garros, with all three separated by two titles. Nadal is the top favorite to claim the 14th Roland Garros crown and become the first player with 21 Major trophies, hoping to extend his Parisian dominance and write history books.
Last year, Nadal lost to Dominic Thiem in the Australian Open quarter-final and had only one more chance at Majors after skipping the US Open. The Spaniard came at Roland Garros with only a couple of matches in his legs in the past eight months, facing challenging conditions in unusual times for the clay Major.
Delivering his A-game, Rafa toppled seven rivals in straight sets and got broken only eight times in total to leave everyone behind him and claim the milestone 20th Major title. Ahead of the last year's Roland Garros, Nadal said that he can't think about the GOAT race all the time, staying focused on his game and enjoying his time on the court, regardless of the results.
Rafa also stated that he would love to finish his career at 25 Major titles, although he understands how tough it is to achieve that. Focused on the current event, Rafa made a winning start in Paris on Tuesday, beating Alexei Popyrin 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 in two hours and 33 minutes.
Rafael Nadal seeks the 21st Major title at Roland Garros.
Nadal stood above his young opponent in the opening two sets before Alexei found his best tennis to open a 5-2 lead in set number three. Rafa saved two set points in the ninth game and gained momentum ahead of the tie break that he won 7-3 to seal the deal and advance into the second round.
"When you ask me about Roger Federer's record, I always say the same. I made my entire career in my way and will keep doing that. I'm not obsessed with those 20 Major titles; I can't always think about Roger or Novak Djokovic and our race for most Majors.
I know journalists put a lot of attention on that. I would love to finish my career with 25 Major titles, but that's unlikely to happen. I'm going to fight and create chances; we will see when I finish my career. I want to keep enjoying tennis, that's all.
If I'm playing on a high level, I'm a Major contender. If not, it's impossible to win it," Rafael Nadal said.