French Open 2017: Rafael Nadal seeks 10th title, faces Stanislas Wawrinka in final
Paris: Rafael Nadal insists on winning a 10th-place opening title in France on Sunday and his 15th Grand Slam would be his biggest success.
His most reliable moment, in his judgment, came to his low back in 2012 and 2013, when he seemed sure that his long battle against the knee and wrist injury race would eventually be lost.
But in a seemingly unsuccessful position, then designed one of the most remarkable sport seasons.
“It’s true that 10 is a nice number but, in fact, my favorite is new,” said Nadal, nine-time Roland Garros champion.
“Sure, if it becomes 10, it will be my favorite.
“But what I’m most proud of in my career is probably 2013. It was amazing.”
Nadal lost seven months of action between 2012 and 2013 due to a left knee injury and then a stomach virus.
But when he returned, he swept the French titles and the US Open and claimed the world number one.
“I did not have a lot of knee problems, so I could not practice at all, and I finished the year No. 1 in the world, winning here (in Paris), winning the US Open, and that’s what I am More proud, “said Nadal.
The 31-year-old Spaniard became Spanish 10-end French Open, where he faces 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka Sunday without missing a set.
While Wawrinka needs most of five hours to beat the world number one Andy Murray, Nadal ruled out Dominic Thiem, conqueror Novak Djokovic in three sets.
His lifelong record at Roland Garros reads 78 wins and only two losses.
On Sunday, he will play in his 22nd Grand Slam final.
On the way to the title fight, he delivered only 29 games, six less than he reached the final in 2012 and only two more than the 27 record awarded by Bjorn Borg in the season trophy in 1978.
However, despite a head-to-head at 15-3 Wawrinka fame, 32, the oldest man in Paris in 44 years, Nadal does not rely on complacency.
“Nine is probably difficult here. If I did, probably someone else will, because I do not consider myself very special,” he said.
“I’m not good to say, but playing 10 finals here is a bit difficult.”
Wawrinka has only once beat Nadal on clay in six games.
But there is no doubt that he is a great game player.
The Swiss has won three Grand Slam finals in which he has appeared – in 2014, beat Nadal in Australia and Novak Djokovic in the Paris final in 2015 and again in the US Open final last year.
The victory in Melbourne was his first after 11 consecutive defeats against Nadal.
Twelve months ago, Nadal retired from the French Open with an injury to his left wrist on the eve of the third round.
He spent most of his time on his boat with his girlfriend Xisca, even though he had the luxury of seeing Djokovic complete the Grand Slam by beating Murray in the final.
Wawrinka will be the third oldest winner of the men’s title if he succeeds at every opportunity on Sunday.
“Playing Rafa on clay in the final at the French Open is probably the biggest challenge you can have in tennis,” he said.
“He is the best clay player. He goes for his tenth Roland Garros, so it’s really impressive, something difficult.
“I’ll have to play my best tennis, but then again, I did it in the past, so we’ll see what happens on Sunday.”