Rafael Nadal’s accomplishments at Roland Garros defy perception. On Sunday, the 36-year-old Spaniard captured his file 14th French Open title by shortly dispatching Norway’s Casper Ruud in straight units.
There was nothing that wanted to be cemented in Nadal’s legacy at this level. There’s functionally little distinction between a thirteenth French Open win and a 14th, aside from Nadal separating from historical past much more. No one will ever, ever come near Nadal’s Open Period titles at Roland Garros, and that was true earlier than Sunday and much more after it.
Nadal has constructed a monolith out of his success. Molding the French clay into an edifice of brilliance so imposing that it might take unimaginable bravery (or stupidity) to even try and scale it and conquer the file. Previous to his arrival in 2005 solely seven gamers had ever received a couple of French Open, the best clay participant of all time previous to Nadal, Bjorn Borg, received six titles within the Open Period. Even earlier than Sunday Nadal had greater than doubled it.
Nadal didn’t simply grasp the clay, it was part of him from the start. An estimated 84 p.c of tennis courts in Spain are clay, and it’s a floor he grew up coaching and competing on. It’s this factor, paired along with his pure ability to deal with the technical, slower paced floor that took an excellent tennis participant and turned him into one thing else. A grasp not solely of the sport, however the components — changing into one with the floor in a approach we simply haven’t seen with some other participant within the historical past of the game.
Past the championships is his insurmountable file. Nadal is now 112-3, a win share of an astonishing .973. No athlete within the historical past of any sport has seen dominance in a single venue like Rafael Nadal has, and it’s not even remotely shut. It’s tough to adequately map a person athlete right into a workforce sport, however right here’s an instance of simply how pronounced a .973 win share is inside a particular venue.
- Michael Jordan at house within the NBA Playoffs: 73-19 (.793)
- Wayne Gretzky at house with Edmonton within the NHL playoffs: 51-15 (.772)
- Jack Nicklaus making the High 10 at Augusta: 22-23 (.488)
- Lance Armstrong within the Tour de France: 7-6 (.538)
You’ll be able to decide an athlete, select a location, and also you received’t discover anybody who comes near Nadal — particularly amongst those that competed in the identical place over 50 occasions. That’s earlier than we get to the issue in dominating clay over all these years. It’s an impossibly tough type of tennis that’s to this point faraway from grass and hardcourt play that it’s virtually its personal sport.
It’s unclear what occurs subsequent. Nadal appears resolute that he needs to proceed enjoying, however damage and age are taking their tolls. There was some hypothesis he may announce his retirement after profitable on Sunday, however as an alternative he used his victory speech as a dedication to maintain enjoying — at the least at Roland Garros.