Following Nadal’s tenth French Open win yesterday, there was a suggestion made during television commentary that the organisers should consider renaming the trophy after him.
It’d certainly be a fitting tribute to the Spaniard after he retires, and would not be an excessive gesture in recognising his dominance of the event.
Superlatives have long since been ineffective at describing Nadal’s achievements, not only at Roland Garros, but on clay courts in general, with 53 tournament wins so far on his favourite surface. And the evidence suggests that he’s far from finished yet.
To put his feats into some perspective, Nadal won his first French Open a few days after turning 19. He had another by the time he was the same age as one of the game’s current rising stars, Alexander Zverev.
Dominic Thiem, who lost to Nadal in the semi finals, is another player making solid progress and looks likely to compete for major titles. At the age of 22 years and 116 days, he recorded a career high year end ranking of 20th in the ATP World Tour Rankings, and was the youngest player in the top 20. Nadal had six Grand Slam titles by that age, with successes at three of the four majors.
Considering the amount of talent needed at a young age, and the consistency and longevity to even attempt to match Nadal’s record of ten wins at a single Grand Slam, it seems unthinkable that it could ever be repeated.
After the match, Nadal revealed the doubts he has had over whether he would add to his previous tally of 14 grand slam wins, and with three years having passed since he last won one of the sport’s majors, those doubts were shared by many fans.
Djokovic, Murray and, more recently, Stanislas Wawrinka have set a high standard for the rest of the competition since Nadal’s 2014 French Open title. Injury problems have also taken their toll on the Spaniard, adding to the uncertainty of whether he could even compete at the highest level again – and making his return to top form even more special.
Not that Stan Wawrinka will want to replay the match too often, and after producing some devastating tennis of his own throughout the two week tournament, he wouldn’t have expected such a bruising defeat.
It will be of no comfort that he already has his name on the trophy, nor that compatriot Roger Federer has suffered even more comprehensively when faced with a final against Nadal on the intimidating court of Philippe Chatrier.
Wawrinka continues to demonstrate that he firmly belongs in the company of the sport’s best, and should take confidence from his performances in Paris.
It’s just that on this occasion he was facing a man who had history in his sights, with a tenth title, or la décima, up for grabs
And based on Nadal’s performance, it’s almost certain that no player – either present or past – would have been capable of spoiling his day.