Rafael Nadal’s ‘crazy’ triumph when he ‘couldn’t even walk’ and ‘was on crutches’ recalled by rival

Ewan West
Delight for Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal ecstatic

Casper Ruud has reflected on Rafael Nadal winning his most recent Grand Slam title when he “couldn’t even walk on his foot” due to having local anaesthesia to play matches. 

The Norwegian star revealed Nadal was on crutches and unable to walk the day after he lost to him in the final and described the great Spaniard’s efforts to win the tournament as “crazy.”

Nadal produced a typically devastating Roland Garros display to hammer Ruud 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 in the final of the 2022 French Open and claim a record-extending 14th title at the event. This was his 22nd and most recent Grand Slam victory, with the 37-year-old having largely struggled with injury issues since.

The former world No 1 revealed after the tournament he had received pain-killing injections in his foot before matches and described the foot as being “asleep” while on court.

Despite this, Nadal became the third player to defeat four top 10 players en route to winning a major title since the ATP Rankings were introduced in 1973 and he lost just three sets during the run.

Prior to beating Ruud, Nadal had overcome Felix Auger-Aliassime, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev in the last 16, quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively.

The tennis legend has been dealing with the chronic foot condition called Mueller-Weiss syndrome since birth and it proved particularly troublesome during 2021 and 2022.

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During a conversation with Dominic Thiem and Alex de Minaur on an episode of the UTS (Ultimate Tennis Showdown) Talk Show, Ruud spoke about Nadal’s remarkable 2022 Roland Garros victory.

“Well, I played [him] when he couldn’t even walk on his foot. He had local anaesthesia. That was crazy. I actually met him the day after, and he was on crutches. He couldn’t walk,” recalled the 25-year-old.

“Even though I lost badly, I was actually thinking the night before that maybe he’s so hurt that he can’t even walk. If maybe there is one year where someone can surprise, it might be this one because everyone knew he was injured. I mean he beat everyone along the way.

“He was, I’m not gonna say fortunate, but he had a really tough match against Zverev. They played three hours and they didn’t finish the second set. If that was a bit long, who knows?”

The world No 8, who has reached three Grand Slam finals and been ranked as high as second in the world, also discussed Nadal’s dominance at the French Open.

“At least in the final, it’s an unbeatable record: 14-0. He lost a few quarter-finals, with Novak I think — two of them. And once with [Robin] Soderling,” Ruud said.

“Three times [he has lost]. I don’t think this record will be broken, what is it, 105-3 or something, 110-3? There’s no way. It’s safe, for the next century at least. It’s unbelievable.”

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