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Uncle Toni: ‘Rafael Nadal is the only clay specialist player who…’

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Rafael Nadal’s many victories on clay (a record of 59 titles) earned him the nickname ‘King of Clay’, the surface on which he is considered the greatest player in the history of tennis. Nadal is a clay court specialist in the sense that he has been extremely successful on that surface.

He has won 12 times at the French Open, 11 times at Monte Carlo and Barcelona, and nine at Rome. However, Nadal has shed that label owing to his success on other surfaces, including holding simultaneous Grand Slam tournament titles on grass, hard courts, and clay on two separate occasions, winning ten Masters series titles on hard court, and winning the Olympic gold medal on hardcourt.

During a long interview with Eurosport, Toni Nadal discussed the 2010 US Open final. “We finished 2009 with big problems. In 2009 Rafael was the best on the Tour. He won at the Australian Open. Then we arrive at Roland Garros and the problems are starting.

Knee problems and some other things. At the end Rafael loses the number 1 rank. And when we start 2010, we to recover the number 1 spot. It was the only time that Rafael won 3 Grand Slams in one year. He played very well all the time.

He won Roland Garros, he won in Wimbledon against Berdych and then we’re at the US Open. For us this tournament was very important because we knew if Rafa wins the US Open, he would have won each of the 4 Grand Slams at least once, so that final was special.

We were a little tense before the match. In this moment Rafael was a very good player. He was number 1. In my mind it was not a very important match. I know that it was good for us, that he can win the 4th Grand Slam. And I want to say: Rafael has won the 4th Grand Slam.

But he’s the only clay specialist player who has done that. It’s true that for Rafael it was a little more difficult to win the 4″ – he said.

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Novak Djokovic says he regrets his failure to win at the US Open or Roland Garros

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“The US Open disqualification notwithstanding, I have only lost one match all season and I’ve played some of the best tennis of my life”

Novak Djokovic says he regrets the failure to win either the US or French Opens, despite playing some of the best tennis of his life in 2020.

Having won an eighth Australian Open in January, Djokovic was disqualified at the US Open after inadvertently hitting a line judge in the neck with a petulant swipe of the ball during his fourth-round clash with Pablo Carreno Busta.

He was then blown away by world No 2 Rafael Nadal in the final of the re-arranged French Open in October.

Djokovic remains on 17 Grand Slam titles while Nadal and Federer are on 20 each after the Spaniard clinched a record-extending 13th Roland Garros title.

“There is a lingering regret that I didn’t win either the US Open or the Roland Garros this year,” Djokovic told reporters at his tennis academy in downtown Belgrade by the Danube river.

“I was in outstanding form at both events but having reached the French Open final, I was beaten by a player who was much better on the day.

“I was below par and that’s it. As far as the US Open is concerned, I got myself into an unfortunate situation and was disqualified, but I won several other big tournaments.

“The US Open disqualification notwithstanding, I have only lost one match all season and I’ve played some of the best tennis of my life.”

Djokovic dismissed suggestions he was under intense pressure to overhaul Nadal and Federer in their three-way race to become the greatest male player of all time.

“Pressure has been a part of my life for a long time and I’ve learned how to deal with it,” he said.

“It comes with the territory if you are a top-level athlete and it can also galvanise you. You take physical and mental knocks along the way but it’s all part of the learning curve.

“If I retired now I’d be happy with everything I have achieved but I still enjoy competing and every tournament I enter gives me so much motivation and joy.”

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