It has been a near perfect 2017 for Rafael Nadal until now. He has conquered a host of La Decima’s with the most coveted coming last night, when he absolutely decimated Stan Wawrinka to claim his 10th French Open crown. Very few would have expected Nadal to stay on court for so long, let alone winning title for fun, but such has been the brilliance of his comeback that he has left everyone applauding in awe.
Stan Wawrinka, Nadal’s ‘finals’ nemesis was expected to give the great man a run for his money in the final, but like so many times in his career, Nadal brushed aside his opponent like he did not even exist. Forehands down the line, backhand punches from way behind the court, banana shots; Nadal was dishing out all sorts of brilliance on court last night. His clay court dominance has reached the apex, and all we can do is sit back and applaud the genius of the man.
In the press conference that followed the win, a happy and satisfied Nadal told the reporters that he played the perfect French Open this time round.
“It has been a perfect Roland Garros for me. Have been magical all the things that happened in this tournament for me. So very happy for everything. Today was a very important day for me. Have been some tough moments last times, injuries, so it’s great to have big success like this again.”
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“But that’s it. Happy because I have been working a lot to be where I am today. I don’t think today was my best match”, Nadal added.
“It wasn’t even my best match at the French Open. I played well throughout the tournament; otherwise I would not have had the scores I got. Don’t get me wrong. It was a good match. I think the sensations were a bit different compared to the other matches, because I think I was more nervous.
But I had better sensations when I played Basilashvili, for example. That’s only for myself. I’m speaking only for my emotions and sensations. I guess if I watch the match on TV or video I may have a different opinion.”
When asked at what point was he confident of winning the match, this is what Nadal had to say.
“With the 4-1 in the third, you know you are very close, no? Especially when I made that game 5-1, I say, Okay, probably I gonna win, no (smiling)? But before that, I have been very focused all the time without thinking about title or the trophy, you know.”
“I just think about the next point, you know. Been couple of times that I was close, like Australia 2012. Like this year in Australia that I finally lost. I know Wawrinka is a very dangerous opponent, so my mentality was there all the time thinking that I cannot give him the chance to be back on the match, because then he starts to hit so strong from the baseline, and he’s able to produce amazing shots.”
“I was nervous at the beginning, had some bad games. Probably Stan was some nervous at the beginning, too. Then I saved a very important game and that was very beginning of the match. But sometimes these moments change everything. And I saved that break point, that game with 1-All. Then the match starts to become a little bit more normal match.”
When asked if attaining the world number one ranking was on his mind, Nadal said that he is just trying to concentrate on the present and not look too much into the future.
“I am playing well. I am in a good position. I just won the most important event of the year for me, so that’s the only thing that matters today. Winning these kind of titles, then you have chances to become any number on the ranking. I don’t know.”
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“I am playing well. If I am able to keep playing well, why not?”
The last three years were not good for Rafa. When asked if he ever had any self-doubts during those barren years, Nadal admitted that he always doubts himself all the time.
“I have been very honest with you all the time. I have doubts every day. I think the doubts are good, because they give you the possibility to work with more intensity, with being more humble, and accepting that you need to keep working hard to improve things. So for sure I have doubts.”
“During that three years, I had doubts. Right now, I gonna have doubts even in a few days, because in tennis every week is a new story and that’s part of the beautiful thing of our sport. Life is not that clear. So if you have no doubts probably is because you are too arrogant.”
“I don’t consider myself arrogant at all. So I think the doubts or don’t consider myself very, very good let me work so hard all my career. And for that reason, I am having the success that I had.”
Rafa was then asked to rank this win among all his previous victories.
“This is gonna be one of the most special ones for the number, for what happened on the ceremony after the final, for so many things And because I am 31 already and not a kid anymore (smiling). Because of the level of tennis and accepting that I have been in the problems, physical problems for the last period of time, that’s an important one.”
Nadal also admitted he had never thought of playing for such a long time: “In 2005, I thought in 2017 I’d be fishing on my boat in Mallorca.”
“I didn’t really think I’d have such a long career and win so many tournaments. This event has been very special to me, and it’s true that it is unprecedented. Trust me, I’m very happy that I’m the one who did it.”
“If I can do it, someone else can do it. But you need the right circumstances, the right ingredients to win 10 French Open titles. I don’t know if I will ever get to meet the player who will do better than I did.”
About his chances at Wimbledon, Nadal said,
“It has been a while since I don’t play very good at Wimbledon.”
“It’s true that after 2012 what happened with my knees have been tougher and tougher to compete on grass for me. That’s the reality. Let’s see if I’m playing well since the beginning of the season. I love grass, everybody knows, and it’s a surface that I really enjoyed a lot playing there.”
“And I miss play with Wimbledon again. So I hope that my knees hold well and I can have the preparation that I really need and the preparation that I wanted. So if that happens, why not? If I have pain on the knees, then I know from experience that it’s almost impossible.”
“Because I need to feel strong, low, and powerful legs to play well in Wimbledon. If I don’t feel that, then probably my chances are not there. But if I am healthy and I am able to have the right preparation and feel healthy during the Wimbledon, then probably gonna have my chances to play well.”