PARIS – Winning the final of Sunday’s French Open for Spaniard Rafa Nadal is the biggest achievement of his career, even at the peak of his unexpected success at this year’s Australian Open where he won a record 21st Grand Slam, his coach Carlos Moya said on Saturday.
Nadal, bidding for his 14th title at the French Open, faces 23-year-old Norwegian Caspar Rudd, who has trained at the Spaniard’s academy in the past and is currently the most successful clay player to win the title on the surface since 2020.
“What I saw in Australia this year was beyond anything. But what I see here is through his own drama. This is another measure of resilience, “coach Carlos Moya told Reuters.
“I think it would be a bigger achievement to win the French Open today than the Australian Open,” he said. “It simply came to our notice then. In my opinion, this is the biggest achievement in his career.
In the final of the Australian Open in January, Nadal, who came down from two sets to defeat Daniel Medvedev, 36, on Friday, won his second title there.
A couple of months ago he was even thinking of retiring after a foot problem that plagued him throughout his career, forcing him to miss most of the 2021 season, including Wimbledon, the Olympics and the US Open.
He arrived in Australia with less preparation and was not in good health after being infected with Covid-19. But Moya said it was even more difficult in Paris, where Nadal brought a doctor through the tournament despite a leg injury.
“Australia’s preparation was nothing, and less here, but it’s soil,” Moya said. “Okay, so a little change. There’s been something that might put Australia on top.”
In the fourth round, Felix Agar-Aliasim pushed Nadal to five sets and four more needed to knock out the main eight main title rival Novak Djokovic.
On Friday he was ahead 7-6 6-6 against in-form Alexander Zaverev until the Germans twisted his ankle and had to retire. Moya, himself a former French Open champion, admitted that he had no way of knowing how the match would have turned out if it had finally been played.
“Of course, he could have lost the last two matches,” Moya said. He somehow survived.
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