Rafael Nadal revealed to Eurosport his troublesome left foot “was asleep” during his romp to a 14th French Open title and said he needed multiple injections to last the tournament.
The Spaniard dropped just six games in dismantling Casper Ruud in Sunday’s final before dampening speculation he was set to retire.
Nadal has been tormented by a chronic foot injury, which ruled him out of the back end of last season and interrupted his progress this campaign.
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He returned to win the Australian Open and embark on a spotless 20-match winning streak to start 2022, before his preparations for Roland-Garros were derailed by his foot complaint and a debilitating rib injury.
But he produced another historic run on the red dirt of Roland-Garros, featuring a late-night thriller with old rival Novak Djokovic, to claim a record-extending 22nd Grand Slam singles title.
Speaking to Eurosport experts Mats Wilander, Tim Henman and Barbara Schett after his victory, Nadal admitted that he needed medical support to get through the fortnight in Paris.
“If I didn’t believe, I probably wouldn’t be here,” said Nadal.
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“It was a big surprise [to be here], unexpected and as everyone knows in the world of tennis, the preparation was not ideal.
“I had been off the practice courts for a month and a half with a stress fracture on my rib, and then I had [a problem with my] foot. It stayed there all the time. In Rome it was difficult, but it’s been amazing - I’ve had my doctor here with me.
“We played with no feeling in the foot, with a [pain-killing] injection on the nerve. The foot was asleep, and that’s why I was able to play.”
When asked how many injections he had in the tournament, Nadal quipped: “It’s better you don’t know”.
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Nadal’s 22nd major moved him further clear of Djokovic and Roger Federer in the race to be the most decorated men’s player in history. Federer and Djokovic both have 20 titles.
"I thought two years ago that it would be Novak [who would win most Grand Slam titles], he was No. 1 in the world, Rafa was starting to only win the French Open and we weren’t sure if he could win on the hard courts as well," 18-time Grand Slam champion Chris Evert told Eurosport.
"But now he’s two ahead, his body seems to be holding up pretty well. I think this title is the most meaningful ever, going through adversity. Four or five weeks ago, did we even think he was going to play the French Open? But he comes back, he goes through a lot of tense matches."
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