‘I played Federer, Djokovic, Agassi – the best is Nadal’, claims former ATP player
A former ATP player has declared that he played Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andre Agassi, but thinks Rafael Nadal is the best player he ever faced.
Jean-Rene Lisnard said every point in matches against Nadal is “hell”, adding the Spaniard “never lets go and you can feel it.”
The Monegasque, a former coach of world No 2 Daniil Medvedev, reached a career-high ATP singles ranking of world No 84 in 2003.
Lisnard was defeated 6-4, 6-1 in his only career encounter with Nadal at the 2006 Monte Carlo Masters.
The two-time Challenger Tour title winner also lost both his meetings with Federer – and his only clash with Agassi – in straight sets. He was also beaten twice by Djokovic in the qualifying draws for tour events.
In an interview with French sports newspaper L’Equipe, the Monegasque described why facing Nadal is such a tough challenge.
“I played Federer, Djokovic, Agassi. The best is Nadal. Every (point) stitch is hell. He has monstrous punching quality. Against anyone, you lead 40-0, you tell yourself that the game is almost won. Not against [Nadal],” Lisnard said.
“He never lets go and you can feel it. When he takes control with his forehand, it’s only a matter of time before you lose the point. He eats you.”
The 43-year-old coach also revealed he gets junior players to watch Nadal in training at Roland Garros due to his attitude and intensity.
“When I do Roland [Garros] with juniors, I show them [Nadal] in training. It’s two against one. And he puts maximum intensity on every strike,” Lisnard added.
“I tell the kids: ‘Look, he’s got 500 million in his [bank] account, more than 20 Grand Slams, but he’s still on top of everything, all the time.”
Nadal was forced to withdraw from the ongoing 2023 French Open due to a left hip injury. The legendary Spaniard, who turned 37 on Saturday, had a successful surgery on the hip on Friday.
The 14-time Roland Garros champion had not missed the tournament since making his debut in 2005. He is currently tied on a men’s record of 22 Grand Slam singles titles with great rival Djokovic.
Djokovic is in action at the Paris major, where he is looking to win a third French Open title following triumphs in 2016 and 2021.
The Serb is responsible for two of Nadal’s three defeats at Roland Garros, with Robin Soderling the only other man to beat the Spaniard.
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