First of Nadal’s 100 French Open victims spoke

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He said, Nadal beat and punished opponents, especially in the French Open, the most grueling of major tournaments due to its slippery and uneven clay surface.

Federer dropped such easy, fast stiletto winners that losing them felt almost painless.

Novak Djokovic has no holes in the game.

For Bergsmüller, they are equal. But every year when the Open starts, he particularly remembers the young Nadal.

Back in 2005 he smiled remembering the chatter of the locker room at Roland Garros.

The players knew that Nadal, who had set foot on the men’s tour but missed the French Open last year due to injury, would soon emerge as one of the best. But it meant a player who could win some major titles, not 20 or more.

All Nadal needed to break, his fellow professionals thought, was a little more spice.

At the time, Bergsmuller, number 96 in the world, said, “I didn’t want to hear it too much.” “I tried to stick to my plan to play my game.”

This meant suppressing the attack.

He tried, but he quickly realized that playing with Nadal was different from his experience. He had never faced anyone so intensely. Or anyone who hit with such a devastating topspin. Or someone better able to sprint, slide, and stay balanced in clay court, and send the balls back as scorching answers.

Again and again, Bergsmuller thought he had won a point with a winning shot, only to see that Nadal not only kept the point alive but smacked back a winner.



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