‘Rafael Nadal can be the best’, says top analyst

Rafael Nadal is a true legend on and off the court.

Rafael Nadal made an impressive debut at Roland Garros in 2005, beating five rivals and facing World No. 1 Roger Federer in the semi-finals on his 19th birthday. The Spaniard defeated the Swiss 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in two hours and 47 minutes, becoming the fifth-youngest Open Era finalist.

It was his third meeting and the first in Majors. Rafa beat Roger for the second time and prevented him from reaching the title clash at the one Major missing from his collection. Nadal won just 11 more points, serving at 73% and defending the second serve well to come out on top against the more experienced opponent.

The youngster saved six of 12 break points and grabbed nine breaks from 13 chances to seal the deal and set the clash at the Mariano Puerta. Rafa kept in touch with Roger at the shorter range, up to four shots, and outplayed him at the more advanced ones, though there wasn’t much to separate them.

Federer had more winners and 60 unforced errors, which hurt his chances of a better result. The youngster got a break at 15 in the first game and held after two deuces in the next for an early lead. The Spaniard held serve in game four and hit another break to put him ahead 4-1 after a forehand winner.

Federer capitalized on the fourth break chance in game six with a backhand winner to cut the deficit. However, his forehand failed again in the next game to lose serve for the third time and fall 5-2. Nadal wasted two set points on his serve in the eighth game and allowed Federer to extend the set.

However, the youngster closed the set with the fourth break from him in the ninth game for 6-3. The Swiss raised his level after a slight rain delay in the second set, playing better after the opening blow and breaking the Spaniard at 1-1.

Roger converted the fourth break chance in game five to carve out a 4-1 lead and held at love to pull a game away from the set.

Rafa still wants to win

Speaking on the Tennis Channel Inside-In podcast recently, sportswriter Chris Oddo reflected on Rafael Nadal’s season, saying that if he can find his top fitness level in 2023, he will be the player to beat.

“We forget Rafa because not much has happened for him off-late, the injuries kind of caught up with him, he became a father, and a lot of things happened. But two Slams at the beginning of the year and I think what he proved to me and what I think is still going to be true going forward is that if Rafa can find a way to get that diesel engine going and get to peak fitness where he’s comfortable with the surface, where he’s going to be playing, he gets a little bit of a lead-up, his body’s not giving him issues, if he peaks, he can beat anybody and do the damage.

He can do that again next year. I think it’s going to be harder for him to sign that peak fitness but if he’s got it and he’s thriving in his body, he can be the best,”Oddo said.

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