Mats Wilander says he finds Rafael Nadal more “fun” to watch than Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer – and is “blown away” by the way he hits the ball.
Nadal, 36, continued his French Open dominance by winning a record-extending 22nd Grand Slam title in Paris, beating Casper Ruud in the final.
The Spaniard is now two clear of long-time rivals Djokovic and Federer in the all-time Grand Slam standings.
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While Federer is usually labelled the most graceful of the trio, Wilander is enjoying Nadal’s style of play more than ever.
“The older I get, the more I enjoy watching him play,” the seven-time Grand Slam champion and Eurosport analyst told L’Equipe.
“We see that he trusts his variations more than when he was 22 or 23 years old. I find his tennis more fun than Roger's or Novak's.
“With Roger, everything seems easy. It's simple and aesthetic. Rafa is different: his true personality arises when the racquet hits the ball.
“Of course, the beginning and the end of the motion are not as fluid as with Roger. But the contact with the ball is so pure, his touch on the ball is so extraordinary that I am blown away.
“I've always loved its intensity and emotional involvement. But before, there was a repetitive aspect to his game. We knew exactly how he was going to win the point. And we knew he would win 6-2 6-2 6-2.
“Now he creates uncertainty: what will he do on the next move? It's like watching Federer when he was at his best. I no longer want to commentate on his matches, I just want to watch him play.”
He revealed after the French Open final that his foot was “asleep” during matches after taking injections, and he now plans to get treatment.
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“I was able to play during these two weeks with extreme conditions. I have been playing with injections on the nerves. That’s why I was able to play during these two weeks, because I have no feeling in my foot," said Nadal.
“Everybody knows how much this tournament means to me, so I wanted to keep trying and to give myself a chance here. But it’s obvious that I can’t keep competing with the foot asleep.
“So that’s the thing that we are planning to do the next week. It’s going to be a radiofrequency injection on the nerve to try to burn the nerve a little bit and create the impact that I have now on the nerve for a long period of time.”
“I’m going to be in Wimbledon if my body is ready to be in Wimbledon. That’s it.”
Wimbledon starts on June 27.
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