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Nadal catching Federer is back on
Rafael Nadal says he was thinking of last year's heartache as he stormed to victory at Roland Garros 2017, a 10th French Open win that leaves him with a good chance of surpassing his rival Roger Federer.
Tennis more than any is a game of numbers.
Rafael Nadal’s dominating brilliance during this year’s French Open meant that the Spaniard needed to win only 19 full sets to land an imperious 10th title at Roland Garros.
The now-Emperor of the famous Parisian clay can also realistically target 19 career grand slams; one more than his foe, Roger Federer.
Federer turns 36 at the beginning of August and will do incredibly well to add to the eighteen majors that he has stylishly secured during a tremendous professional career that that started 19 summers ago on the clay of the Rado Open in Swiss village, Gstaad.
Nadal, who landed his first slam aged 19 at the 2005 French Open, entered his 31st year less than a fortnight ago.
Even if the man from Manacor in Mallorca were to retire from tennis at the end of 2019, aged 33, he would still have 10 more opportunities to move from 15 grand slam titles to 19.
Add two more years, and 10 opportunities become 18 opportunities.
Stan Wawrinka said that after losing to Nadal in straight sets in a final that was only six minutes longer than the ladies singles final, he felt his opposite number from Spain was playing the best clay court game of his life.
Last year's disappointment
Nadal, a calm professional who chooses his words carefully, would not be drawn in the aftermath of his latest triumph on whether or not his 2017 victory supersedes the previous nine, nor if Federer’s awe-inspiring all-time feat is once again in sight.
What he did tell me when I had a few minutes with him a good four and a half hours after the dismissal of Wawrinka was that last year’s Roland Garros heartache was firmly on his mind this time around.
“Last year was a tough one," he said. "I felt ready to compete and then it happened with my wrist [the injury].
“I had to go home before I wanted to, without the chance to compete.
“So, this year was another opportunity and I compare it now - the tough moments last year.”
Rafael Nadal Parera is a devoted supporter of Champions League winners Real Madrid, on close terms with several of the club’s current Galactico-filled squad.
A certain Cristiano Ronaldo could be good company over lunch before Wimbledon next month; not least because he was won 19 major titles with Madrid and Manchester United.