Rafael Nadal clinched his 14th Roland Garros title extending his Grand Slam record to 22 titles after beating Casper Ruud in the final of the French Open 2022 on Sunday (June 5). No player in the Tennis history has won more French Open titles than the Spaniard, who’s often called the ‘King of Clay’ following his consistent dominant performance in the tournament over the years.
Nadal won his first Roland Garros at the age of 19 in Paris and lifted his 14th title on Sunday at 36 years of age. The Spaniard showcased a dominant performance over Casper Ruud beating his in three-straight sets in the final showing absolute determination and finesse with every serve and return he made.
Rafa has been suffering from a major foot injury and even after winning the Australian Open, he did admit that he took pain injections in his foot to keep the pain away.
Meanwhile, India’s tennis great Mahesh Bhupati praised the Spaniard on his stellar performances year-in and year-out, saying that the Tennis GOAT debate should be settled after Nadal’s 22nd Grand Slam title.
“I think it’s definitely over for the time being, today when the challengers are coming so close to beating these guys. Winning three Grand Slams titles (in a row) is not a given obviously Novak (Djokovic) will go to Wimbledon as a favourite but three is a long way off when it comes to Grand Slam titles,” Bhupati said in an exclusive interview to WION news.
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 5, 2022
Bhupati, who’s a big fan of tennis great Roger Federer admitted that Nadal’s record is mind-blowing and the numbers he has now settle the debate on who is the greatest tennis player of all time. Interestingly, Rafa Nadal currently leads the most number Grand Slam titles leaving both Federer and World No.1 Novak Djokovic behind.
“I am a huge Roger Federer fan, the guy is a magician on the tennis court. But statistics don’t lie and I can’t believe it. 14 time French Open champion is mind-boggling to be honest because I don’t think a layman understands the physicality of winning at Roland Garros,” Bhupathi added.
The former Indian tennis player, who also won four titles at the French Open praised Nadal on playing with an injury in his left foot and still winning the tournament beating Djokovic and Ruud on the way.
“And with everything, Rafa went through and we heard him speaking to the media after the final that he had to take injections in his foot so his foot was numb in the last 5-6 matches. And still getting through that tough section of the draw and winning again is beyond special,” Bhupathi said praising Nadal.
While Roger Federer is still working on his injury, Djokovic will feature in the Wimbledon 2022, in hope of closing the gap on the Spaniard. Notably, Djokovic has been far from his best since last year following his US Open final loss against Daniil Medvedev and semi-final loss against Nadal this year.
Speaking on Djokovic, Bhupathi said, “The pressure got to him of winning the career Grand Slam at the US Open and he was definitely far from his best. As far as the match against Nadal, that was definitely the best match at French Open. Nadal just found a way to close the match out. I wouldn’t discount Novak, he is probably the mentally toughest player we have seen in this generation but having said that he has got his work cut out for him.”
“He has got a lot of adversities to deal with from not taking the vaccine. We don’t even know if he will be allowed into Australia for the next three years. US Open is still a question mark if they are going to allow him to play. Wimbledon is a must-win for him to keep the title race close,” he added.