“We Have Already Buried Him so Many Times”: David Goffin Backs Rafael Nadal After Madrid Open 2021 Defeat

Published 05/12/2021, 5:24 AM CDT
Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Madrid Open – Caja Magica, Madrid, Spain – May 7, 2021 Spain’s Rafael Nadal reacts during his quarter final match against Germany’s Alexander Zverev REUTERS/Sergio Perez TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Belgian tennis star David Goffin has shared his thoughts on whether the status of Rafael Nadal on clay remains undiminished in the wake of two defeats on the surface this year.


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Speaking to reporters ahead of his third-round clash at the Italian Open against Federico Delbonis, the current World No.13 suggested it isn’t fair for people to sit on judgment whether Nadal still reigns supreme on clay as it is, perhaps, the first time in 15 years that he has arrived in Rome on the back of two defeats.

What’s more, amid all the noise around his shock defeat to Andrey Rublev at the Monte-Carlo Masters and quarter-final loss to eventual champion Alexander Zverev in Madrid, his record 12th career title at Barcelona seems to have been consigned to the footnotes.


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David Goffin says premature to write off Rafael Nadal on clay

Goffin said that the tennis world is so used to seeing the Spaniard win virtually every title on clay for over a decade that two rare defeats have now got everyone debating whether he is still the ‘King of Clay’.

“It is certain that when you’re used to seeing him win everything…there, one year in 15, he arrives here (Rome) with two defeats and we wonder if he is still the strongest,” the 30-year-old said.

On the Madrid defeat, the Belgian said Nadal came up against a determined Zverev on the day and one also has to acknowledge that the other top stars, especially the younger lot, are getting better on clay with every tournament and season.

He added that while the World No.3 still has the hunger and desire to win every title on clay, his primary objective is to continue his incredible championship run at Roland Garros.

Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Madrid Open – Caja Magica, Madrid, Spain – May 7, 2021, Spain’s Rafael Nadal walks off the court after losing his quarter final match against Germany’s Alexander Zverev REUTERS/Sergio Perez

“He played a very good Zverev and even if he wants to win everything, his main goal remains Roland-Garros,” the Belgian said, adding that he was hopeful that the defending Rome champion will have a strong run this year as well.

David Goffin says Nadal doesn’t like Madrid Open

Goffin said that with the likes of current World No.1 Novak Djokovic, Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Matteo Berrettini and Rublev snapping at his heels, it’s getting more and more difficult to keep his hold on clay.

However, he opined it is premature to write his tennis obituary and one shouldn’t read much into his run in Madrid as it has never been among his favorite tournaments.


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“There is Thiem, Djokovic, Zverev, even Berrettini. Tsitsipas, Rublev…lots of very good players. Madrid…is the tournament he likes the least. We can still count on him. We’ve already buried him so many times,” Goffin said.


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He added that while even the biggest of tennis stars have to stop at some point in his career, Nadal’s time still hasn’t come.


Priyabrata Chowdhury

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Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.