“He has reached almost perfection, Novak, in his game style, the way he plays, which is unbelievable to see, honestly,” Tsitsipas said. “That inspires me a lot to go out and work and try to reach that perfectionism, that ability to have everything on the court.”
If Nadal prevails in the final, he will have won 100 matches at the French Open.
But for once, the focus will not be on Nadal’s running total at Roland Garros. It will be on his pursuit of Federer’s Grand Slam singles record.
Federer, 39, won his 20th major title at the 2018 Australian Open, but Nadal has steadily narrowed the gap since then — winning the French Open twice more and the United States Open in 2019 to bring his total to 19.
Nadal, true to character, has downplayed the chase.
“I am happy with who I am,” he said, tapping his chest with an index finger, in an interview with The New York Times earlier this year. “I was very happy with 16, very happy with 17, very happy with 18, very happy with 19, and if one day I get to 20, I will be very happy, too. But my level of happiness is not going to change because of this.”
When pressed, he has acknowledged that he is not immune to the lure of the history books. “I understand these things, and it’s good for tennis that people talk about this,” he said on Friday. “But I am living my own reality, and when it’s finished and it’s achieved or not, it will be talked about.”
Nadal has always been more interested in looking forward to the next point, the next match, the next challenge than looking back at all the castles he has built on the clay and elsewhere.
It is his not-so-secret weapon — that deep focus on process over destination.
“It’s important to go through all the process,” he said. “You have to suffer. You can’t pretend to be in a final of Roland Garros without suffering.”