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"Rafael Nadal is the best athlete in history" - Andrey Rublev

Andrey Rublev (L) and Rafael Nadal (R)
Andrey Rublev (L) and Rafael Nadal (R)
Namit Kumar
Modified 19 Oct 2020, 18:09 IST

Rafael Nadal's triumphant run at Roland Garros has garnered much attention among current tennis players. The Spaniard defeated World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the final in straight sets to win a record-extending 13th French Open title and record-equaling 20th Grand Slam title.

Recently, St. Petersburg Open champion Andrey Rublev weighed in on Rafael Nadal's victory, calling it one of the greatest feats in the history of sport and hailing the 34-year-old as the best athlete in history.

I cannot imagine how it is possible what Rafael Nadal is doing: Andrey Rublev

Rafael Nadal with his 13th French Open title
Rafael Nadal with his 13th French Open title

Speaking to the media after his triumphant run in St. Petersburg, Rublev elaborated on how he has to improve his game constantly while giving the example of Rafael Nadal.

"I cannot imagine how — I’m not even talking about [just at] the Grand Slams — it is possible what he (Rafael Nadal) is doing," said Rublev. "To be mentally that strong all your life and all your career, I don’t know how it is possible."

The odds were not exactly in favor of the now 20-time Grand Slam champion going into this year's Roland Garros event. Nadal was faced with wet cold-weather Parisian conditions which curb his natural game, and the new balls being used at the tournament were also supposed to inhibit the effect of his topspin.

In the final, Nadal was up against a Novak Djokovic who was seemingly in the best form of his life - as evidenced by his 37-1 win-loss record in the 2020 season until then.

The discipline and mental resolve it took for Rafael Nadal to reign supreme despite all the adverse conditions in Paris is what Andrey Rublev is in awe of.

"Every player, even Roger (Federer) or even Novak (Djokovic), they had one moment in their career when they were mentally a little bit down or they could get a little bit emotionally down during the match and, if something happens, they could lose or something," explained the Russian. "Rafa is the only one player in history that it doesn’t matter how he feels, bad or good. In the end he always finds a way to win."
"If he is not winning, he is losing in three sets after three hours if it is not [at] a Grand Slam. If it is [at] a Grand Slam, it is going to be five hours and [against] the players that are really good. I don’t know how it is possible to be this strong mentally during all his career," Rublev added.

The 22-year-old is of the opinion that given the toughness of his sport and the resilience it takes to win on a bad day, Rafael Nadal is the best athlete - not just in tennis, but in history.

"Even if you take other sportsmen or athletes, they can have bad days. But because maybe the team is good, they are still winning,” said Rublev. “In tennis, if you are having a really bad day, it is really tough to find a way (to win) and compete like nothing happened. He has done this during his whole career. For me he is the best athlete, not even in tennis, the best athlete in history."
Published 19 Oct 2020, 17:51 IST
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