Former tennis player Sergio Roitman has revealed an incident with a 16-year-old Rafael Nadal, portraying his tenacity and desire to win at such an early age. The former world number 62 talked about an event from 2003, when he had got the better of the Spaniard 6-3, 6-7, 6-4 in the $50,000 ATP Challenger final in Cherbourg.
After losing, Nadal was devastated and claimed that his inability to win finals was down to an "Ivan Lendl syndrome", the former tennis great who lost 11 Grand Slam finals in his career.
"In that final some people of Nike came for the first time to sign a contract. At that time, to me, he didn't seem that great in terms of the game, but mentally yes. It was a very hard match, but in the end I won," Roitman said, as quoted by Tennis World USA.
"Rafa was devastated, sad and looked to have hit rock bottom. I came to him while they were preparing for the ceremony and I said: 'Rafa keep calm, you are just 16. You played (on) indoor (court) and it was your third final in a row.' And he replied: 'Another final lost. I am afraid that Ivan Lendl's syndrome affects me, as he could not win finals.'"
The Spaniard has won six titles in 2017, which include two grand slams – the French and US Open – and has confirmed his place as the year-end world number one for the fourth time in his career. This season has been one to cherish for Nadal, his best after 2013, when he won 10 titles.
The 16-time Grand Slam winner has come a long way in his development, winning his tenth Roland Garros title in 2017 and has established himself as the greatest clay court specialist of his generation.