Why Rafa Is So Special As a Tennis Player – and a Person

Yesterday, as you no doubt already know, the great Rafael Nadal won his 14th French Open men’s singles title and his 22nd Grand Slam tournament title by defeating Norway’s Casper Ruud 6-3, 6-3, 6-0.

Nutshell video.

Afterward, Rafa detailed some of the physical obstacles he had to overcome to achieve that historic result, as Liz Clarke and Ava Wallace noted in the Washington Post.

During the news conference that followed, Nadal, who has been accompanied at this year’s French Open by his doctor, explained he has needed to take anesthetic injections in two nerves in his left foot before each of his matches to compete.

“I have been playing with injections on the nerves to sleep the foot,” Nadal said, “and that’s why I was able to play during these two weeks — because I have no feelings on my foot.”

The primary risk, he said, wasn’t from the injections but the chance that he could suffer further while numbed. “It’s a big risk in terms of less feelings, a little bit bigger risk of turning your ankle or produce another [injury] there,” he said.

Yet it was a risk he deemed worth it — at least for this tournament.

But, Rafa said, he won’t do that again. He’ll try “what he described as a radio-wave ‘burn’ or ablation of the nerves in hopes it will offer longer-term or permanent relief.”

And if that doesn’t work?

“It’s not about being the best of the history. It’s not about the records,” Nadal said. “It’s about I like what I do, you know? … What drives me to keep going is the passion for the game, [to] live moments that stay inside me forever.”

God bless Rafael Nadal, because for almost two decades, he has also created moments that will stay inside us forever.

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