Neither the recently turned 36 years old, nor the recurrent problems in his left foot. A good summary of the tennis course so far would be that, basically, a diminished Nadal, constantly hammered by the effects of Müller-Weiss disease, may be the best tennis player on the circuit. An affirmation that would not only support his most recent victory at Roland Garros, the 14th, a feat for which there are no longer epithets.
There are other arguments in the service record of the Balearic Islands. It is not extensive, never in recent times has it been. The ailments and the passing of the years have forced him to be more selective. But where he puts the eye he puts the bullet. He has played seven tournaments this year and has won four of them (in Rome he fell in the round of 16, in Madrid in the quarterfinals and in Indian Wells he lost the final against Fritz): Melbourne, Australian Open, Acapulco and Roland Garros. An ATP 250, a 500 and two Grand Slams, which bring his total account in the majors up to 22. Two more than Federer, who at 40 years old does not seem to have the gas to stay in that race, and Djokovic, due to age (35) and medical history, the one who a priori would have more chances to end up winning.
It is necessary to speak conditionally of the latter because Nadal has imposed it this way with his last blows of effect. He took advantage of the Serbian’s absence in Australia due to his refusal to be vaccinated and eliminated him in the quarterfinals at Roland Garros, leaving the face-to-face match between the two on the ground at 20-8 in his favor. Nole could have a clear path at Wimbledon, but the US Open may be the scene of a new chapter in this rivalry.
With the two majors and the titles in Melbourne and Acapulco, Rafa’s ATP record has reached 92 individual titles, five more than Djokovic and eleven less than Federer. Reaching Jimmy Connors’ 109 seems like a very complicated task for the three of them, but Rafa continues to get closer to the historic podium, whose border is marked by Ivan Lendl’s 94. His calendar for the rest of the year will depend on the foot, but who knows, maybe he will catch up with the Czech this year. He even has the 23 grand of Serena Williams and the 24 of Court, historical top of both sexes. Although he usually plays down these lists, each year he strengthens his statistical position a little more as one of the best in history, if not the best.
And beyond the data, there is the feeling that none of his contemporaries, together the three legs of the most glorious era that this sport has known, has suffered as much to achieve divinity as he has, nor has he made it a routine to same level as Rafa winning one of the most important tournaments on the circuit. For Federer’s former tennis player and last coach, Ivan Ljubicic, the manacorí’s love story with the Musketeers Cup can only end one way: “Don’t think that good Philippe Chatrier would mind if his court changed its name to Rafael Nadal .The statue is not enough.” Of course, no one would be surprised if Roland Garros picked up the glove. If there is a name that we have associated with that track above the current one in the last two decades, that is that of a Spaniard who, not even injured, stops making history.