Rafa Nadal breaks Roger Federer record in French Open victory
Rafael Nadal continues to rewrite history in men's tennis, with his first round victory at the French Open seeing the Spaniard break a record held by great rival, Roger Federer.
Nadal shrugged off his ongoing battle with injury after beginning his bid for a 14th Roland Garros title with a clinical straight-sets victory over Aussie Jordan Thompson.
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The Spaniard, seeded five this year, swept aside Thompson 6-2 6-2 6-2 despite a recurring foot problem which scuppered his bid for a first title on clay this season at the Italian Open earlier this month.
Victory for Nadal was his 106th on the Roland Garros clay - the most of any men's player at a single grand slam tournament.
Nadal's staggering feat sees him overtake Federer on the list, with the Swiss maestro having won 105 matches across his Wimbledon career.
Most match wins at Grand Slams:
106 - Nadal (Roland Garros)
105 - Federer (Wimbledon)
102 - Federer (Australian Open)
98 - Connors (US Open)
89 - Federer (US Open)@RafaelNadal @rolandgarros pic.twitter.com/pb93o8SL4Z
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) May 23, 2022
The 35-year-old's 299th grand slam victory was accomplished with minimum fuss, setting up a showdown with France’s Corentin Moutet in the second round.
Nadal admitted that his recent foot injury had knocked around his confidence, but insisted that he was feeling good at Roland Garros.
“Of course the confidence is higher when you win in Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid, or Rome,” said the Spaniard.
“Without a doubt, things are easy in this world to understand, no? When you are winning more matches and more tournaments you have better confidence.
“When this is not the case, things are different. But I never expected to be winning 15 Monte Carlos and Romes, so that’s the situation today.
“I got injured, and that’s it. What happened is past and here we are. We are in Roland Garros. I am here to try my best.
“And how is my level of confidence? How the things would be or if I didn’t get injured, I don’t know. We never know. So I’m not a big fan of thinking about the things that could happen if… ‘if’ is a dangerous word.
“And then it’s the moment to accept the situation and to have the confidence to put all my effort in every single day, to get better and better. Let’s see how far I can keep going.”
Rafa Nadal respects both sides in Wimbledon furore
Nadal, who will face Moutet – who beat former champion Stan Wawrinka in four sets – in round two, also touched upon the ATP’s decision to strip Wimbledon of ranking points for its ban on Russian and Belarusian players.
“At the end, I understand both sides,” he said diplomatically.
“I respect and I understand Wimbledon’s position, without a doubt, but on the other hand, I understand and I respect too that the ATP is protecting its members.
“That’s it. Is not that one is doing a negative thing and the other one is doing the good thing. Everyone half.
“In my personal opinion, (they) have good reasons to make the decisions that they make today. Hopefully ATP and Wimbledon can be together and sit together and negotiate a better future for both sides.”
Defending champion Novak Djokovic had his say following his straight-sets win over Yoshihito Nishioka, and felt the ATP was right to take action despite the adverse effect it will inevitably have on his ranking as World No.1.
“I think collectively I’m glad that players got together with ATP, the governing body of the men’s tennis, and showed to the grand slam that when there is a mistake happening, and there was from the Wimbledon side, then we have to show that there is going to be some consequences.”
Djokovic said despite the controversy, he "intends to go to Wimbledon" and try to defend his crown.
“Wimbledon is still Wimbledon, it was my dream as a kid, I never looked at it for points or prize-money, but I understand the group of players affected. It’s a lose-lose situation.”
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