Sporting Life

Nadal's 12th French Open win: Will we ever witness a dusty warrior like him again?

There is no end to the fantastic, no border to the incredible and no finish line to Rafael Nadal in Paris. His fire refuses to be doused and his thirst for combat will not be slaked. He is a history writer, hope crusher, adjective mocker - "outrageous" has become understatement - and a pest to shoe executives. Roger Federer's shoes in Paris have a simple '09 on them, but how do you fit Rafa's 12 victorious French Open years on a single sneaker?

Old bullfighters from the Spaniard's land must be grateful they never fought him. They used a muleta, a red cloth, to provoke the bull, which is what Roland Garros clay seems to do for Nadal. It rouses something primaeval in him, something elemental, and you see it especially when he's wounded.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 11, 2019, with the headline 'Will we ever witness a dusty warrior like Nadal again?'. Print Edition | Subscribe