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Saturday, Sep 21, 2019

Nadal 2.0 doesn’t want to lose sleep over results

Nadal’s win-loss record in his last five events is now is now 27-1, with titles at the Rome Masters, the French Open, the Montreal what, and the US Open. In the last three years, despite the injuries, Nadal has won five of the 12 Grand Slams

tennis Updated: Sep 10, 2019 14:09 IST
Nilankur Das
Nilankur Das
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
New York: Rafael Nadal, of Spain, poses with the championship trophy after defeating Daniil Medvedev, of Russia, to win the men's singles final of the U.S. Open tennis championships Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in New York. AP/PTI(AP9_9_2019_000007A)
New York: Rafael Nadal, of Spain, poses with the championship trophy after defeating Daniil Medvedev, of Russia, to win the men's singles final of the U.S. Open tennis championships Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in New York. AP/PTI(AP9_9_2019_000007A)(AP)
         

The great three-man race for Grand Slam titles that tennis has been embroiled in over the last decade got a new sense of reality on Sunday night in New York, where Rafael Nadal, 33, raised his victorious arms for the 19th time at one of the four majors.

Now just one shy of Federer’s mark of 20, Nadal’s track record in the last three years, his age, and his near invincibility on clay, suggest that the Spaniard has the inside track on becoming the winningest Grand Slam champion in history. Though Novak Djokovic, 32, sitting on 16 Grand Slam titles and in blistering form, remains the biggest threat.

But before we reflect on the Spaniard’s numbers, a look back at how far he has come in the last 12 months. Nadal lost most of the second half of 2018 battling injuries. He pulled out of 11 off 12 hardcourt tournaments between August 2018 and February 2019 due to a knee injury and an ankle surgery. That was followed by a hip injury, which again forced him out of the Indian Wells and Miami Masters in March.

When he lost to Fabio Fognini in Monte Carlo this April, and then pulled out of Barcelona the following week, he said he was being forced to consider quitting tennis for a while.

But in Paris in May, back on his favourite surface clay, in his favourite tournament at Roland Garros, things changed all of a sudden. Nadal won the French Open–his third in three years and 12th in the last 15—and though he lost in the semi-final to Federer at Wimbledon (Djokovic won it in an epic final), came back to stamp his authority at Flushing Meadows for the second time in three years.

Hindustantimes

Nadal’s win-loss record in his last five events is now is now 27-1, with titles at the Rome Masters, the French Open, the Montreal what, and the US Open. In the last three years, despite the injuries, Nadal has won five of the 12 Grand Slams. His appearances per title ratio of 2.4 over this period is significantly better than his career average of 3.1.

Federer played 10 Grand Slams and won three between 2017 and 2019–but has been winless since the 2018 Australian Open, or in his last six. Djokovic has won four Grand Slams in 11 appearances since the beginning of 2017.

Nadal, who is five years younger than Federer, said on Monday that he was playing close to his finest tennis and his five-set victory over Daniil Medvedev was probably his best Grand Slam final performance in the face of an onslaught from an opponent 10 years his junior.

When asked about the Grand Slam title race, he said: “All the things that I achieved in my career are much more than what I ever thought and what I ever dream. I would love to be the one who has more. But I really believe that I will not be happier or less happy if that happens or [does] not happen. In that way I am very, very calm, very pleased with myself.”

In other words, very very calmly marching towards the record.

First Published: Sep 10, 2019 08:37 IST