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Nadal before final against Ruud: “To win another title, after the pain I had, would mean a lot”

Rafael Nadal looked down and out in Rome two weeks ago but is now on the verge of a record 14th Roland-Garros title and Grand Slam title No 22. Casper Ruud stands in the 36-year-old’s way.

Roland-Garros 2022, Rafael Nadal Roland-Garros 2022, Rafael Nadal © Aurélien Morissard / Panoramic

Rafael Nadal has overcome many obstacles in his career to become the most successful male player, in terms of Grand Slams won, in history.

But if the Spaniard goes on to win Roland-Garros for the 14th time on Sunday, it would go down as the biggest achievement of his career.

Two and a half weeks ago, Nadal limped away from his quarter-final defeat by Denis Shapovalov in Rome seemingly in agony, his chronic left foot flaring up again to the point where many people were not even sure if he would play the French Open, let alone be in with a chance of winning it again.

Spain’s Rafael Nadal during a break in play (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

But having beaten Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals and then Alexander Zverev, who had to retire after suffering a nasty ankle injury deep into the second set of their semi-final, Nadal plays Casper Ruud in the final. Winning No 14, he suggested, might just be the best achievement of the lot.

“I’m doing the maximum to give me options whatever the physical shape. Win another title after the pain I had, it would mean a lot, a lot to me.”

Nadal said his chronic foot injury, which he has dealt with since 2005, was something that he thought about in terms of his future, when he is finished playing.

“Yes I would prefer to lose the final and have a new foot,” he said. “My speech doesn’t change. A new foot would would help me a lot on day to day basis. Life is more important than any title. After the career I had, I give the maximum but the future is more important, I’d like to live my best life with friends, do sports, so a foot without pain would change my life on daily basis.”

Spain’s Rafael Nadal reacts during his semi-final match against Germany’s Alexander Zverev (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

Nadal: “I was positive that I would play here”

Nadal said he’d always known he would be able to play in Paris, where he has won the title a record 13 times.

“I explained everything going through my mind after Rome, and nothing changed,” he said. “At the same time, I was not very positive after that about my foot, but I was positive that I will be able to play here.

“And here I am. I played, I fighted, I did all the things possible to give myself at least a chance to be where I am and happy of course to be able to give myself another chance to play on second Sunday here in the final of Roland Garros, no?

“So that means a lot to me. And even if all the sacrifices and all the things that I need to go through to try to keep playing, really makes sense when you enjoy moments like I’m enjoying in this tournament.”

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