On Sunday, Rafael Nadal won his 20th Grand Slam title by clinching Roland Garros for the 13th time in his incredible career. Triumphing in the French capital without losing a single set, the former world number 1 equaled the record of eternal rival Roger Federer, who only played in the Australian Open this year before undergoing a couple of operations on his right knee.
Before Federer, the record was held by Pete Sampras at 14 Majors, with the American who had beaten the record that Australian Roy Emerson had held for over 30 years. In a long interview with the Roland Garros website, Gustavo Kuerten emphasized how the current generation has some advantages over the times of Emerson and Sampras, especially in terms of physical preparation and nutrition.
Kuerten on Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal
"The fact is that life is going to change a lot over the next 50 years, and this is a reflection of what is to come," Gustavo Kuerten told the Roland Garros website. "The human being is different, one is born to live 150 years.
Sport, and tennis, are on the crest of that wave. Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have five or eight years of extra tennis life compared to previous generations," the Brazilian added. "They are taking advantage of the evolution of the human being, of training, of medicine, of food.
And since Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are two great players, they are taking advantage of those advantages even better than others. They (Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal) are from a generation that has science at its disposal, they have the physical capacity to do things much better for much longer.
And there time is decisive. If you think about a 15-year career, it's 50 percent more than a 10-year career. They started before us and will finish later," Kuerten said. "Tennis players will play for 20 years and will still be competitive at 40.
And that's when they have to try to play well at 35, at 38. You live to be 80 and play until you're 30, you devote 40 percent of your life to tennis. If you live to be 130, it is logical that you play until you are 40.
And you are a better tennis player until later. The coming players will last longer than us," he added. "The physical condition of the players today guarantees that the courts are adapted to the player," Kuerten said.
"In our time it was the other way round: it was up to us to adapt to the different surfaces, to change the game patterns. They don't have the problems we did. The scheme of 15, 20 years ago did not benefit us much: the balls were more 'alive', everything was heavier or faster. Everything was much more messy. Today everything is more homogeneous, the surfaces are much more similar," he added.