Rafael Nadal, of Spain, poses with the championship trophy after defeating Daniil Medvedev, of Russia, to win the men's singles final of the U.S. Open tennis championships Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Rafael Nadal, of Spain, poses with the championship trophy after defeating Daniil Medvedev, of Russia, to win the men's singles final of the U.S. Open tennis championships Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Nadal a one-trick pony? Time he got more respect

Despite hiding in plain sight, Rafael Nadal is invariably overlooked in most Greatest Of All Time debates.

With a 19th major trophy destined for the Mallorcan's showcase, the obsession of downgrading Nadal's achievements because of his ultimate strength - claycourt genius - is more perverse than ever.

For those who haven't been paying attention, Nadal's grand slam haul includes seven majors away from Roland Garros, where his French Open hegemony stands at 12.

Of the "other" seven titles, five have come on hardcourt (four US Opens and an Australian crown) and two at Wimbledon.

Rafael Nadal, of Spain poses with the championship trophy
Rafael Nadal, of Spain poses with the championship trophy

There is also the impressive feat of reaching - and losing - eight other major finals (four Australian, three Wimbledon and another at Flushing Meadows), hardly the palmares of the archetypal dirtballer.

So, if Nadal really is a one-trick pony and unworthy of comparison with Roger Federer (20) and Novak Djokovic (16), what more can he possibly do?

By June next year, chances are the Spaniard will have the perfect retort.

Dominic Thiem and Djokovic are likely to be the biggest stumbling blocks to what has become the almost annual Nadal Paris tour de force.

With a likely 13th Muskeeters' Cup, Nadal should be level-pegging with Federer - and that's not taking into consideration the chances of a second Melbourne Park major.

It is only eight months ago, after all, that the mighty southpaw cast aside the disadvantage of a skinny preparation to reach the Australian Open final.

Nadal endured a horrible beating from Djokovic in that match but his grand slam form since has been impeccable - victory in Paris, semi-finals at Wimbledon and victory in New York.

Djokovic, with seven Rod Laver Arena crowns, and Federer, with eight at the All England Club, have also won each major at least once.

Neither endures the same slings and arrows as Nadal about where and how they've amassed their majors.

At 33, Nadal still has plenty of time on his side - just like Djokovic.

For so long, the debate has largely revolved around the extraordinary Federer.

Latterly, it has been about the incredible Djokovic.

Belatedly, and rightly, Rafa is in the debate. As he always should have been. 

News Corp Australia


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