French tennis star Gilles Simon has crossed swords with Rafael Nadal a total of nine times in his career. But he has come out defeated eight times. Therefore he understands the Spaniard and has faced him during his peak years. It is a rivalry that stretches back to 2006.
So Simon had a clear idea of how the Spaniard was nowhere near his vintage best when he played the Australian Open and came from behind to win the Major in 2022. Nadal seemed a bit rusty in the opening two sets but then he sparked a come back and eventually won his way through against Daniil Medvedev in the finals.
Simon is currently featuring at the OPen De Sud France event spoke about Nadal’s historic feat after beating countryman Lucas Pouille in the round of 32. The Frenchman highlighted how Nadal was playing at 70-70% of his natural level and that was good enough for him to beat next gen star Medvedev.
“What Daniil went through against Rafa, we, during our careers, we tried to explain it sometimes, which we were blamed for because it sounded like an excuse: it’s hard to win,” he was quoted as saying by L’Equipe:
“On Sunday, I saw a Rafa who played 75% or even 70% of what he was playing before. And that’s enough to dominate a Daniil who is almost the best player in the world on hard court at the moment when Novak is not there. You tell yourself that it’s his margin, in fact,” he added.
Nadal eventually won 2-6, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 against Daniil Medvedev in a gruelling encounter as he clinched his second Australian Open title and created history by being the first player to reach the 22 Grand Slam milestone.
While Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer missed the event for totally different reasons, Nadal made the most of the opportunity. He suffered from a foot injury recently and was sidelined for a considerable amount of time. He then returned to the court and soon after that contracted COVID-19 which made him think about his decision to come to Melbourne and feature at the Australian Open. However, these things are now in the past as Nadal has already bagged his 22 Grand Slam and is gunning for more with the clay court around the corner the Spaniard is eyeing the Roland Garros.