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Exclusive! GOAT debate over for now: Mahesh Bhupathi hails Rafael Nadal after 14th French Open title


Rafael Nadal was ruthless, he was unstoppable and a force to be reckoned with when the Spaniard maimed Casper Ruud in the 2022 French Open men’s singles final on Sunday 05 June to secure his 14th title at Roland Garros and a 22nd Grand record record. Click. No player in tennis history has won more French Open titles than Nadal, who has rightfully earned the title “Kings of Clay” for his unprecedented dominance of the tournament over the years.

Nadal has been a dominant force at Roland Garros. From winning his first title in Paris as a 19-year-old to lifting his 14th title on Sunday, he has proven why he will go down as one of the greatest the game has ever seen. Nadal beat Ruud in straight sets in the final and became the oldest man to win the French Open title at 36, a testament to his unwavering fighting spirit and determination.

Nadal had battled a chronic foot injury in preparation for Roland Garros after making a fantastic start to the year by winning the Australian Open. However, he kept injury issues aside and admitted to having had painkiller injections in his foot to keep going. He stood with the elusive trophy at Court Philippe Chatrier in what was a fitting end to an incredible campaign for the Spanish icon.

Speaking exclusively to WION after Nadal’s 22nd Grand Slam victory at Roland Garros, Indian tennis great Mahesh Bhupati took his hat off to the legend and said the GOAT debate should be settled for now. Nadal, with his 22nd Grand Slam title, is now two ahead of closest rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, who both have 20 titles each to their name.

“I think it’s definitely over for now, when the challengers are so close to beating these guys. Winning three Grand Slam 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.

Nadal

Read also : Stunning numbers and feats behind Rafael Nadal’s 22nd Grand Slam win

Although he himself is a huge admirer of Roger Federer, Bhupati admitted that Nadal’s achievement is breathtaking and that the numbers don’t lie when it comes to deciding who should receive the title of greatest of all. all the time. Nadal currently leads both Federer and Djokovic in the list of most Grand Slam titles won for men.

“I’m a big fan of Roger Federer, the guy is a magician on the tennis court. But the stats don’t lie and I can’t believe it. 14 times Roland-Garros champion, it’s 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 star, who won four French Open titles during his decorated career, also hailed Nadal for playing with a left foot injury throughout the tournament and still managing to lift the end of the title by beating Djokovic and Ruud on his way to the title.

“And with everything, Rafa went through and we heard him talking 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 games. And still going through this difficult part of drawing it and winning again is more than special,” Bhupathi said praising Nadal.

Read also : ‘If Novak wins 23…’: Rafael Nadal reacts to the fact that Djokovic could exceed his total of 22 Grand Slams

Novak Djokovic has his work cut out for Wimbledon 2022: Mahesh Bhupati

Djokovic

While Federer is yet to return to action due to injury concerns, Djokovic will hope to close the gap on Nadal when he enters the court at the upcoming Wimbledon 2022 as one of the favourites. The Serb hasn’t had one of his best seasons so far but he hopes to turn things around. After losing to Daniil Medvedev in the US Open final last September, he lost to Nadal in the French Open semi-finals this year.

Talking about Djokovic’s tough time, Bhupathi says the Serb had to endure a tough time both on and off the pitch but he shouldn’t be underestimated. However, the former Indian star insisted that Djokovic will have his work cut out for him at Wimbledon as it is a must win for him to close the gap to Nadal.

“The pressure pushed him to win a career Grand Slam at the US Open and he was definitely far from his best. As for the match against Nadal, it was definitely the best match at Roland Garros. Nadal just found a way to shut down. I wouldn’t overlook Novak, he’s probably the most mentally strong player we’ve seen from this generation, but that said, he has his work cut out,” Bhupathi said.

“He has a lot of adversities to deal with by not taking the vaccine. We don’t even know if he will be allowed to enter Australia for the next three years. The US Open is still a question mark if they will allow him to play. Wimbledon is a must win for him to keep the title race close.”

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Post expires at 6:14am on Friday June 17th, 2022

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