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Rafael Nadal, and his season “almost, almost perfect”

Rafael Nadal, and his season “almost, almost perfect”

The images of the Davis Cup final at the Caja Mágica in Madrid have been etched in the minds of sports fans and also those of those who are not. They were those of the achievement of the sixth Salad Bowl by the Spanish team and they served for both of them to rediscover the best national athlete in history: Rafael Nadal.

They were moments comparable in intensity and emotion to other feats of Spanish sport, such as the British Open by Severiano Ballesteros, with that famous putt on the 18th hole of St. Andrews in 1984, the exultant «take, take, take» by Fernando Alonso in 2005, after winning the Formula One World Cup for the first time at the José Carlos Pace racetrack in Interlagos in Sao Paulo, or the ecstasy of Andrés Iniesta’s goal in the soccer World Cup at the Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg in 2010.

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“It has been an almost, almost perfect season,” said a restrained Nadal after winning the Salad Bowl for the fifth time, after solving epic qualifying rounds with his contribution, such as those played against Russia, Argentina and Great Britain, and winning all eight games in which He participated, five singles (without giving up a set) and three doubles, forming a couple twice with Marcel Granollers and once with Feliciano López, leaving only one set on the way.

Nadal was the undisputed leader of the Spanish team that added the sixth victory in the most important team tennis competition (2000, 2004, 2008, 2009 and 2011) and extended his personal record of matches won in this event to 29 since the appointment of Brno in 2004, when he debuted and was then only 17 years old.

In the Madrid neighborhood of San Fermín, Manacor raised the Salad Bowl for the fifth time eight years after the national team got the last one at the La Cartuja stadium in Seville, by beating Argentina 3-1 in the final.

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The southpaw finished with 58 victories and only seven defeats this season. And with four titles: his twelfth Roland Garros and his fourth US Open – close to only one of the record of the Swiss Roger Federer, with 20 of the Grand Slam – and the 1,000 Masters in Rome and Montreal. Apart from the Davis Cup Finals and the Laver Cup, Nadal was only able to compete in 13 tournaments due to injuries.

This year, in addition, he finished for the fifth time as number one in the world (2008, 2010, 2013 and 2017), ahead on this occasion of Serbian Novak Djokovic and Federer. His season was completed with the final of the Australian Open, the semifinals of Wimbledon and Barcelona, ​​and those of the 1,000 Masters in Monte Carlo, Madrid and Indian Wells. All this with 33 years.

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His resume, with 84 individual titles, could have been expanded if he had not suffered physical problems, such as problems in his right knee that prevented him from playing the Indian Wells semifinals against Federer and that caused him to be erased after Miami. In the Laver Cup, his left wrist deprived him of participating in more games (he only played one and won the Canadian Milos Raonic) and in the Paris Masters 1,000 he did not play the semifinals against the Canadian Denis Shapovalov, due to a strained rectus abdominis right.

Nadal also initialed an act of great importance in his life when he married Mery Perelló in the walled enclosure of Sa Fortalesa (Pollensa, Mallorca), five weeks before the Davis Cup final. EFE

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