COLOGNE • Andy Murray predicts Rafael Nadal’s record of 13 French Open titles will never be beaten as the British former world No. 1 looks to bounce back in Cologne this week from his Roland Garros disappointment.
Murray, 33, the reigning Olympic champion, crashed out of the Grand Slam tournament in straight sets with a lopsided first-round loss to Stan Wawrinka last month as he works his way back from hip surgery.
On Sunday, the Scot watched in awe as Nadal, 34, demolished Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in the final in Paris.
The Spaniard has also equalled the all-time record of 20 Grand Slam titles held by Roger Federer, who hailed Nadal’s victory as “one of sport’s greatest achievements”.
Murray, agreeing with the Swiss legend, doubts anyone will get close to Nadal’s French Open record.
“It’s an amazing achievement. I don’t think that what he has done at Roland Garros will ever be beaten. I just don’t see it being topped,” he said in Cologne.
“He is one short of winning the same amount of Grand Slams as (Pete) Sampras did just at one tournament. It’s incredible. I don’t think it’ll be repeated and I don’t think anyone will be close.”
Nadal was just 19 when he first won at Roland Garros and quickly established himself as the King of Clay by winning four French titles in a row.
In 2009, he surprised everyone by losing to Robin Soderling in the fourth round but returned the following year to beat the Swede in the final and start another winning run of 39 matches and five titles.
Djokovic beat him in 2015 and a year later, Nadal had to withdraw after the second round with a wrist injury but he was back on top in 2017 and has remained there since.
“What has changed is age,” Nadal said on Monday with a laugh. “The only negative is that I am 15 years older. Everything else, the basic and important things in my life, have not changed much.
He is one short of winning the same amount of Grand Slams as (Pete) Sampras did just at one tournament.
ANDY MURRAY, former world No. 1, on Rafael Nadal’s French Open haul against the 14 Grand Slam titles held by former record holder Pete Sampras.
“I still live practically in the same place, with the same friends and the reality is that my way of life when I am out of tournaments has changed relatively little.”
Murray reached the second round of the US Open in his first Slam since hip-resurfacing surgery and Roland Garros was his third tournament this year.
Having needed wild cards to play in Paris and Cologne, the three-time Major champion hopes the back-to-back ATP indoor tournaments on the Rhine can help improve his ranking of 115th.
“It will be good to get a few matches in over these next few weeks – I hope to perform better than I did in Paris,” said the Scot. “Physically, my body tends to feel better the more I play.
“Hopefully, I will play a lot over the next two weeks, perform well and see how it goes after that.”
Meanwhile, the Scot and three others have been elected to the ATP Player Council to replace the Djokovic-led group that resigned from the body to form a breakaway union, the governing body of men’s tennis announced on Monday.
Murray, Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime, Australian John Millman and Frenchman Jeremy Chardy will replace Djokovic, John Isner, Vasek Pospisil and Sam Querrey – who stepped down to form the Professional Tennis Players Association.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS