Rafael Nadal receives classy message as French Open king nears more history
Djokovic ‘cleared out of the way’ for Nadal says host
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Rafael Nadal has been backed to break Martina Navratilova’s record of 110 Grand Slam wins by the tennis legend herself. The Spaniard crept closer to that achievement with victory over Novak Djokovic on Tuesday night. Now, he’s just two matches away from another French Open.
Nadal went into his match with Djokovic looking to boost his chances of winning the French Open for the 14th time.
And he did exactly that, overcoming the Serb in four hours to register a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 victory.
Nadal has been in imperious form once again and, now, has 110 Grand Slam wins to his name.
Only Navratilova has won more, with the 65-year-old claiming 120 victories during her own career.
And she’s now expressed a belief that Nadal will surpass her own record in the future, saying on Twitter: “That record will go down before Rafa is done for sure:), and I am so ok with it.”
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That message comes just weeks after Navratilova backed Nadal to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles.
“It may be. He’s still playing. We don’t know how long it will last because tennis is very demanding, and he has injuries, but he always comes back,” she said.
“With a broken rib, and he’s back.
“He is Superman; he should go with a cloak. He seems indestructible.”
Nadal’s long-term future in the sport is currently up in the air, however.
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Speaking before his win over Djokovic, the 35-year-old hinted that he could soon call time on his career.
“I am in the quarter finals of Roland-Garros,” he said.
“I am just enjoying the fact I am here for one more year.
“Being honest, every match that I play here I do not know if it will be the last match here in Roland-Garros in my tennis career. That is my situation now.
“I went through a tough process again with my foot. I do not know what will happen in the near future with my career, so I am just trying to enjoy and fight as much as I can to keep living the dream.
“I hope to give myself a chance to play at the highest level possible and then let’s see.”
And Djokovic, speaking out after his defeat, admitted he wouldn’t be surprised to see Nadal leave tennis behind.
“I didn’t see any problems,” said the Serb.
“It’s not the first time that he is able to — a few days after he’s injured and barely walking — to come out 100 per cent physically fit.
“He’s done it many times in his career, so I’m not surprised.”
Djokovic also paid tribute to Nadal following his win, insisting his rival came through the tougher moments of the match.
“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.”
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