Former World No. 10 Arnaud Clement has spoken of how he finds it "extraordinary" that Rafael Nadal has always been "extremely polite." The 2001 Australian Open finalist revealed that the 35-year-old always shakes his hand and speaks to him, even after winning Grand Slams.
The Spaniard defeated Daniil Medvedev in the 2022 Australian Open final in January to win a men's record 21st Major singles title. He holds a 20-1 record this year, having also won the Melbourne Summer Set and Mexican Open titles, and reached the final of the Indian Wells Masters.
The World No. 4 won three of his four matches against Clement, which came between 2004 and 2007. The Frenchman, now 44, won four ATP titles before retiring in 2012.
Speaking to the Tennis Legend Podcast, as quoted by We Love Tennis, Clement discussed Nadal's pleasant attitude and shared an anecdote to illustrate the point.
"What I find extraordinary about Rafa is that he has always been a player, with his entourage, [who is] extremely polite," Clement said. "He always comes to say hello, he comes to shake hands as he wins Grand Slams, tournaments every week, Masters 1000 all the time. I don't remember where it was, the day after one of his big victories, we were in the hotel lobby and then he sees me, our eyes meet, I make him a small gesture to greet him and then he crosses the whole hall to shake my hand.
"So we respect each other, but I can't say we're close or anything, but here it is, it's Nadal, it's like that," Clement continued. "It's simplicity, we always say hello, whatever the time. Be it a difficult time, an exceptional moment in his career or that he was solicited for dozens of hours by the media from all over the world just before and well, that will not change anything in his attitude, which has always been the same."
The Frenchman also admitted that he would find it difficult to act like the Mallorcan if he were in his position.
"I've always found that extraordinary," Clement added. "I said to myself 'You, Arnaud, I think that you are a rather healthy person, but if you were ever going through the same thing as what he is going through, would you have crossed the hall or been that you would have simply made a small gesture of the hand or the head?' I think I know the answer. Rafael Nadal is extraordinary, he is exceptionally simple."
Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the 2022 Barcelona Open
Rafael Nadal will not defend his title at next week's Barcelona Open, his team recently confirmed. The Spaniard is recovering from a stress fracture in his rib, an injury that also forced him to miss the ongoing Monte-Carlo Masters.
The injury occurred during the third set of the Mallorcan's semi-final victory over Carlos Alcaraz in Indian Wells last month. His team revealed they do not yet know when he will play first claycourt event of 2022.
The 2022 Barcelona Open will be held from 18-24 April. The 35-year-old is a 12-time champion at the ATP 500 tournament. He defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas in a thrilling three-set final last year.