Rafa Nadal reacts to winning French Open at Roland-Garros
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Former world No 5 Jimmy Arias believes that Novak Djokovic is beginning to crack under pressure after his French Open quarter-final defeat to Rafael Nadal. The Serbian lost 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 to the eventual winner of the Major as Nadal won his 14th Roland-Garros title by defeating Casper Ruud in the final on Sunday.
Arias has noticed that Djokovic does not handle pressure as well as he used to and spotted the change over a year ago. “I think Novak [Djokovic] is cracking a little bit. It started with the US Open last year, I know he made the finals, but that whole tournament he was cracking. It shows how much he is thinking about history,” Arias told Tennis Channel’s Inside-In podcast.
“The only reason he was cracking was because he was thinking of the Calendar Grand Slam and if you remember that tournament, he was losing the first set every match. Then he had the strange start to the year with the Australian Open and everything that went on, and I just feel like maybe his days of locking down under extreme pressure will be difficult to find.
“I am not saying he won’t win Majors again, but it will be more difficult.
“I didn’t think Rafael Nadal would ride the ship after the second set [against Novak Djokovic]. We were a little worried about Nadal because of the foot problem, but as soon as I saw a match or two of Nadal, I thought, ‘Okay, wow’.”
Nadal’s win in Paris moved him to 22 Grand Slam titles, two ahead of Djokovic and Roger Federer. After the Serbian’s defeat in the quarter-finals, he praised Nadal. “Congratulations to Nadal. He was a better player I think in important moments,” he said. “I didn’t start so great, 2-6, 0-3, double-break down.
“I was gaining momentum as I was coming back in the second set, managed to win the second set, and I thought, I’m back in the game. I had my chances. I had my chances in the fourth [set]. Served for the set, couple set points. Just one or two shots could have taken me into a fifth. Then it’s really anybody’s match. I gave my best. I know I could have played better. I’m proud of fighting and staying until the last shot. As I said, I lost to a better player today. Had my chances. Didn’t use them. That’s it.”
Tim Henman admitted that he has changed his opinion on Djokovic vs Nadal for the most Grand Slam titles, with Nadal’s win at the French Open swaying him to the Spaniard. “In terms of who’s going to end up with the most Grand Slams. Couple of years ago I would’ve said Djokovic for sure,” the former world No 4 told Eurosport. “Right now with that little bit of distance, I think Nadal has got a great chance.”
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