PARIS: Rafael Nadal admitted on Monday that a deep-seated fear of failure drove him to a record seventh French Open title and will keep him playing until his love of the sport finally drains away.
The 26-year-old Spaniard refuses to accept the crown as the greatest claycourt player of all time, despite surpassing Bjorn Borg’s six Roland Garros triumphs which he matched last year.
With 11 Grand Slam titles under his belt, he is steadily closing in on Roger Federer’s record of 16 and has time on his side being almost five years the Swiss star’s junior.
“I have always been scared of losing,” confessed Nadal, after his 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 win over world number one Novak Djokovic in the Roland Garros final which had been held over from Sunday because of rain.“That’s why I always have full respect for opponents, knowing I can win or lose. I have kept that focus for eight years.”
His record on clay makes impressive reading — seven French Opens, eight Monte Carlo Masters, seven Barcelona titles, six Rome Masters and 50 career titles in all on all surfaces.“It is not for me to say if I am one of the best. I have probably had the best results and it’s a great and emotional thing to win seven French Opens,” said Nadal, whose career record in Paris now stands at 52 wins and just one defeat.
“But the important thing is to win Roland Garros, whether it’s the first time, sixth or seventh.”His coach, and uncle, Toni Nadal claimed in the immediate aftermath of Monday’s win that his nephew was unfortunate to be playing at the same time as Djokovic and Roger Federer.
The inference being that Nadal would have many more than the 11 majors he currently holds.Of the last 34 Grand Slam tournaments, 31 have been shared between the world’s top three.Juan Martin del Potro was the last man to break the stranglehold when he won the 2009 US Open.