Today, reigning Rogers Cup champion and ATP Tour headliner Rafael Nadal turns 33 years old. To help tide you over until he hits the courts in Montréal and celebrate his birthday in fitting style, we’ve looked to some of the legends of our sport.
A few years back, when asked who he believes is the greatest player of all time, former World No.1 Andre Agassi didn’t hesitate for a second: “I’d put Nadal no. 1, Federer no. 2”, adding that “Nadal had to deal with Federer, Djokovic and Murray in the golden age of tennis. He’s done what he’s done, and he’s not done yet.”
On the courts, Agassi and Nadal came to blows twice, including a final in Montréal in which the Spaniard won his third Masters 1000 crown. He’s since added 31 more to his trophy case!
Even though they’ve never gone head-to-head in Montréal (but there’s still time, right?!), we couldn’t overlook the friendly rivalry between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
When asked about Rafa in an interview, the Swiss Maestro declared: “I’m his No. 1 fan. I think his game is simply tremendous. He’s an incredible competitor, and I’m happy we’ve had some epic battles in the past.”
On how he bounces back from injury: “The thing is, Rafa’s always been unbelievable at comebacks. He’s one of the guys who’s done it the best and the most almost. Every time he came back, he was always in the mix again to win big tournaments and be really, really difficult to beat and be one of the favorites, even on his weaker surfaces. So, I think maybe on this occasion, he’s going to lead the way for me, to show how it’s done.”
He may have professionally split from Rafa in 2017, but Toni Nadal had been part of the team since the very beginning, when the future champion was just a toddler!
“It felt so good to be a part of something that made history,” he said in reference to his protégé’s ten titles at Roland-Garros.
Of course, Uncle Toni is a bit biased but his nephew still deserves all the praise!
When asked about Rafa’s drive, he replied: “He’s never seen a point he’s not dying to win, a ball he’s not willing to chase.
Last season, Australian tennis icon Rod Laver took to Twitter to express his admiration for the Majorcan superstar: “He proved to be superhuman at Wimbledon – to win Roland-Garros and come very close here on grass is truly amazing. Possibly the greatest athlete our sport has ever known.”
Coming from a true legend, that’s quite an honour.
“This guy is, to me, I think you can make an argument right here and now, the greatest player that ever lived,” affirmed John McEnroe. “If you look at his record against Murray, Federer and Djokovic, it’s way better than that. He won the Olympics. He’s got Davis Cups, which Roger doesn’t have. I have always said Roger Federer, to me, was the greatest player that ever lived, certainly the most beautiful player. But I’m going to tell you right here and now there’s a definite argument, I’m starting to lean toward Rafa.”
Happy birthday, Rafa!