Rafael Nadal has competed in 35 Major semi-finals, losing only seven and advancing into 28 finals on the most significant tennis scene. Battling against Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in the majority of those, Nadal had to give his best to conquer 20 crowns from 28 title matches, securing his place among tennis immortals a long time ago and extending his tennis legacy. Alongside his incredible fighting spirit and an unmatched will to improve on a regular basis, Nadal’s mental aspect of the game has been second to none. The Spaniard suffered severe losses over the years while also delivering some remarkable wins when he stood with his back against the wall, pushing even harder and finding a way to cross the finish line first. Nadal demonstrated his massive mental strength at the last year’s Roland Garros, dealing with cold and rainy weather, new Wilson balls and a roof above his head on Court Philippe-Chatrier.
Ready to discover the solutions, the Spaniard raised his level to an even more efficient level, lifting the trophy without losing a set and writing record books again. Nadal’s former Davis Cup teammate and a friend, David Ferrer, praised Nadal as the most formidable player to beat in the entire history of tennis when we consider the mental aspect, as he constantly seeks the right solutions. Competing in one of the most important matches of the new Millenium last October in Paris, Nadal claimed the 13th Roland Garros crown against Novak Djokovic in a clash of tennis giants.
The Spaniard produced a rock-solid performance in his kingdom on Court Philippe-Chatrier, toppling the great rival 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in two hours and 41 minutes for the 20th Major crown that equaled Roger Federer’s ultimate record. Nadal had 31 winners and 14 unforced errors, performing strongly from both wings and taking 51% of the return points to control the scoreboard with the aggressive approach. Novak sprayed 50 unforced errors, not finding his well-known level of tennis and struggling to impose his strokes in the most crucial moments.
David Ferrer believes that Rafael Nadal is mentally the strongest player ever.
Rafa lost serve once, which was never enough for Novak to stay competitive after leaving his mighty return in the locker room and standing powerless against the opponent who demolished him in the shortest rallies up to four strokes. As in 2008 against Roger Federer, Nadal delivered a bagel to Djokovic in the opening set, playing almost flawless tennis for a massive lead. Rafa faced no break points in set number two and tamed his strokes nicely to outplay Novak on the return for another mighty impressive set of tennis and a 6-0, 6-2 advantage after an hour and 34 minutes.
Eager to avoid disaster, Djokovic saved a break chance in the third set’s third game and raised his level. Rafa broke him at love in game five and gave serve away for the first and only time a few minutes later. With no room for errors in his games, Nadal held comfortably in the rest of the clash and earned a break at 5-5 after Novak’s double fault to seal the deal in the next game and celebrate the 20th Major title. After many troubles with injuries in the current season, Rafa will try to bounce back in 2022 and fight for Major titles again.
“With everything he has achieved, Rafael Nadal is already among the greatest players ever. Still, we must also add the mental aspect of his game, which makes him the strongest player who has ever played tennis. There is no one like him, no one who handles those moments of pressure so well for so many years,” David Ferrer said.