Rafael Nadal has spoken about what it means to him to have ten Grand Slams under his belt, most particularly the relief he feels having won Roland Garros despite Novak Djokovic putting a significant dent in his confidence. Nadal has called winning Roland Garros ”one of my most beautiful dreams.”
”If I win this tournament, I know my year is fantastic. You are able to play with less pressure the rest of the season; you are able to keep playing with the same attitude, with the same positive attitude playing every day, but with less pressure than before and with better confidence than before. So in general, this probably is the most important tournament of the year for me.’
‘I’m not the best player in the history of tennis. I think I’m amongst the best. That’s true. That’s enough for me.”
Even Uncle Toni admits that Roland Garros was essentially do or die for Rafa. ”It’s the first time that we come here and we have not the feeling that we are the best on clay.
It was the most complicated. He played really badly in the first three rounds. I said to him: ‘You won’t win playing at this level, you must be more relaxed’. And I told him that winning or losing would change nothing.
Winning Roland Garros is an indication that 2011 is a good year. It’ll give him peace of mind for what’s ahead. If he loses at Wimbledon, we will always have the French Open.”
Toni even talked about the way four consecutive losses to Novak Djokovic in Masters 1000 titles, including two on clay, affected Rafa and called his game coming into Paris a mess. “It affects his confidence, yes, of course.
For one reason or another you have been close to winning and you haven’t managed, of course that leaves a mark. He was not very focused in the Indian Wells final, where he was playing very well. He had beaten Djokovic very well in the first set, and he stopped inexplicably.
In Miami he was close to victory, two balls away. One ball was just long… And, of course, it could have changed the picture. You get to clay and the two defeats weigh heavy. It is a vicious circle.
We have to try to play with a little bit more of a spark. We have the diagnosis. Now we need a solution, which is to try to play more calmly.
When you have this hanging over you for a long time, fear comes on, as does anxiety. Many individual sportspeople, who are standing on a wire, think, ‘I’ve walked so far, but look how much there is left!’ And Rafael thinks, ‘Man, how hard it is to be here!’ And every now and then he has doubts. Rafael is someone who worries when things don’t go well.
No, no, no. This is related to tennis, but anyway we are not going to make a drama of something that is going more or less well. We are just missing that consistency to be a decisive player.
If anyone knows what it’s like to be written of prematurely it’s Roger Federer. “Who cares where you stand?It’s when it’s over that you can’t do anything any longer, that’s when you’re proud of what you accomplished. That’s why I’m happy for him that he’s won these grand slams and these tournaments. He can prove to people that he can play a good type of tennis. This is what counts … Ten grand slams is a lot. He knows this; I know this; everybody knows this. It’s really good for him.”