surinenglish

Nadal, king in Paris

If for Henry IV reigning in Paris was well worth a mass, it has taken Rafael Nadal 12 French Opens, and with it he has become a legend. No other tennis player in the history of racquet sports has won a Grand Slam a dozen times. I think that it will be a long time before anyone does it again, if anyone ever does. That crown only has one king: Nadal.

He has won his 12th title on the central court of the Roland-Garros cathedral to tennis in Paris at the age of 33 years and six days. The man who has earned himself the title of best Spanish sportsperson of all time seems to have no limits.

Nadal, who makes the difficult look easy, can be admired for his career packed with triumphs, but even more for his modesty, his humility, his capacity to suffer, his strength to overcome adversity and his good behaviour both on and off the courts.

Accustomed to seeing the pride, the vanity and the arrogance of other players, who throw tantrums like badly brought up children, Nadal is a mirror into which all athletes should look. The education received from his parents and the discipline instilled in him by his uncle Toni, combined with his talent and hard work, are the keys to his success in tennis. In this sport, as in many other areas of our lives, it's no use just being good at what you do, you also have to take your sport seriously to give the best of yourself every day.

Nadal's enviable track record includes 18 Grand Slam tournaments (his 12 French Opens as well as three US Opens, one Wimbledon and one Australian Open). This figure is only beaten by Federer, who has 20, and it would be even bigger if injury hadn't stopped Nadal from playing on top form in some games and forced him to pull out of others when the title was within his reach. But what's done is done.

All we can do is thank Nadal over and over again. Thanks for making so many people happy, loyal fans, who celebrate triumphs and are saddened by his defeats or his physical problems.

The day the Mallorcan star retires, and I hope it will be as late as possible, we will realise what we have lost, because it's highly unlikely that there will ever be a tennis player like him again in Spain.

And so while he continues to dish out lessons on the courts, we must feel proud to see him play as if his life depended on every shot.

If for Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman there will always be Paris, for Paris there will always be Nadal.