Rafael Nadal, the King of Clay, has reached another milestone here at Roland Garros with his 200th Grand Slam win, as he routed 26-year-old Argentine Facundo Bagnis in straight sets, breezing through to the third round.
Interestingly, the Spaniard wasn’t aware of the fact that he is the eighth player in the history of tennis to have achieved such a feat; he rather would focus on the present than resting on his laurels.
“I even didn’t know that. For me, the most important thing is a victory in the second round more than the 200 victories. That’s only another number, and that’s it.”
His first Grand Slam win was back in 2003, at Wimbledon against Croatian Mario Ancic. Nadal made it to the third round that year, becoming the youngest player since Boris Becker to do so at Wimbledon in the Open Era.
“That was my first Wimbledon in 2003. It has always been a dream for me to play there, a major victory for me,” Nadal fondly recalled.
Nadal, a nine-time champion here in Roland Garros, is seeded fourth this year, and his name falls in the top half of the draw along with top seed Novak Djokovic. Both the players have had a smooth run in the tournament so far, and if we are lucky, we can expect a semi-final face-off between the arch-rivals. That would be the most-awaited encounter of the tournament, the ‘real final’ before the final.
Djokovic, a three-time runner-up here in Paris, had lost on two occasions to Nadal in the finals — in 2012 and 2014. However, when the duo met last time here in the quarter-finals, it was Djokovic who emerged as the winner.
But this year, things are different. Nadal has been making a slow but steady progress, and seems to have regained his rhythm, even though the aura of invincibility around him has faded a bit. Nevertheless, he wouldn’t make things easy for Djokovic this time.
“Each year is different. Things keep on changing. We have a new story to write. The only thing I know is that I have reached round No. 3. That’s the only thing that matters for me, and what I know is I have to play at a very high level in order to go deep. That’s my sole objective, the only reality. The other is mere speculation. And that’s not something I like,” a pragmatic Nadal opined.
Nadal doesn’t see himself as a 9-time champion in Roland Garros, and for the same reason, he isn’t satiated. Like Oliver Twist, he wants some more!