The Spaniard’s record triumph on Parisian clay brought him the 22nd major men’s singles tournament, 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 against Norwegian Casper Ruud, and put him two titles ahead of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, who also hold 20 each.
It was “the most unexpected” of his Roland Garros titles, Nadal told Reuters on Monday after limping into a bright hotel lounge in central Paris.
Asked if he had played any other Grand Slam with the injury that forced him to give injections to numb his leg, Nadal said, “Probably not.”
“It simply came to our notice then. Probably the most unexpected, the most surprising title and all the things I had to do to play in this event make the title one of the most special, “said the 36-year-old.
Nadal said that due to the injury, which also meant that he arrived in Paris without any title on the European clay in 2022, he was not confident that he would be able to fight for the Musketeers’ Cup.
Nadal: “Every day is a challenge”
“Of course, when you get poorly trained, as I did, every day is a challenge, you have to increase your tennis level every day,” he explained.
Nadal has traditionally started his slag campaigns on his way to Roland Garros with at least one slag title in his record, but this year he arrived in the French capital empty-handed.
“Winning these titles gives you extra confidence if you want to get at least the level you need to fight for the final rounds,” said the Spaniard.
“This time, before the tournament started, I didn’t know if I would be able to fight for the second week, so I took it one at a time.”
Although there is no doubt that he will participate in the major tournament on clay, but if he will be able to fight for the title it was another matter, especially since Novak Djokovic, world number one, was waiting for him in the quarterfinals.
“I was always confident that I would be able to play, because I played without pain in my leg, with one leg numb due to anesthetic injections in my nerve,” he said.
“But the problem is not only the game, but also the training. I never thought I would play here, but I thought it would be very difficult to be competitive. ”
Although at times he seemed below the best physical level, Nadal still managed to defeat Felix Auger-Aliassime in five sets, in the eighth, before defeating Djokovic in a four-set thriller.
Then in the semi-finals, when he was already on the field for more than three hours, with the Spaniard sweating like never before, Alexander Zverev suffered a strange ankle injury that ended their dispute, when Nadal was leading 7-6, 6-6.
Although he still doesn’t know what his schedule will look like in the coming weeks, Nadal has agreed to think two years ahead, when Roland Garros will host the Olympics after the French Open.
Nadal has won both titles, but if he had to choose between the two tournaments in 2024, the French Open would be his favorite.
“Roland Garros is part of my career history, it is the most important place in my career and, of course, the Olympics are the most important event in the world of sports,” he said.
“So it’s hard to choose, but Roland Garros might be a little more special to me.”
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