In addition to having achieved every imaginable accolade, Rafael Nadal has demonstrated a longevity that very few would have imagined. Suffice it to say that the Spaniard won two Grand Slams in 2022, the Australian Open and Roland Garros, extending over Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in the all-time Grand Slam rankings.
The former world number 1 encountered greater difficulties in the second half of last season, also due to the usual physical problems. Even 2023 didn’t start in the best way for the Majorcan, defeated by Cameron Norrie and Alex de Minaur in the inaugural edition of the United Cup.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion said he was confident, but it’s certainly not the best way to introduce himself to the Australian Open (where he will be called to defend his title). Rafa will have many points expiring until the summer, given that in 2022 he had also won in Acapulco and Roland Garros (without forgetting the final reached in Indian Wells).
Facing Nadal on clay in Paris is considered the toughest challenge in the world of tennis. In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, Maximilian Marterer recalled his match against ‘The King of Clay’ at Roland Garros 2018.
Nadal is called the King of Clay
“It was indeed the biggest match of my career,” Marterer said in a chat during the ongoing 2023 Tata Open Maharashtra in Pune. “I remember, I was so nervous that day. I saw what makes the differences, like Rafael Nadal’s not giving you anything.
Even if the match takes a little longer, even if it gets a little closer, he is at a hundred percent through pretty much every game. You have to do good for five straight sets. It’s a challenge that not many achieved, especially at the French Open.
It was indeed a really beautiful day in my life,” Marterer added. “I did well, I got into the tiebreak in the third set of that match,” the German said. Alex de Minaur picked up one of the biggest wins of his career at the 2023 United Cup, beating Rafael Nadal in three sets.
“I think it’s definitely up there. It’s one of those wins that, you know, it’s one of those achievements that you have unlocked in your career. But also, it’s a big win for myself, one that I really needed,” Alex de Minaur said.
“I’m gonna cherish and use, take all the confidence from this and be able to hopefully take it to have a good Aussie summer.”