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Rafael Nadal captures a record-extending 13th Roland Garros title and equals Roger Federer's record haul of 20 Grand Slam crowns at 2020 Roland Garros.

Spaniards Pay Tribute: 'Rafa's From Another Planet'

His fellow Spaniards recognise his achievements in Paris

Rafael Nadal occupies a unique place in the history of Roland Garros. With a haul of 13 titles under his belt, the most achieved by a man in Grand Slam singles history, the Mallorcan has been long assured of his legendary status on Parisian clay. Considered by many to be the best Spanish sportsman of all time, he enjoys enormous respect in the locker room.

Victory over World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s final saw the Manacor native equal the all-time Grand Slam singles championship record of 20 titles, drawing him level with Roger Federer. It was also Nadal's 100th match win in south-west Paris.

ATPTour.com spoke to several Spanish players to evaluate his historic achievements.

“He’s an example to everyone and I don’t think we’ll see anything similar in our lives,” said Roberto Bautista Agut, who was his team mate at the ATP Cup in January. “The whole of Spanish sport is very proud of him. His record at Roland Garros is astonishing and it will not be repeated.”

Nadal’s achievements in 2020 are especially impressive given that Bautista Agut believes conditions are truly challenging.

“With barely any minutes of competition on hard court or on clay, he’s managed to reach the final without losing a single set,” said Bautista Agut. “That speaks of how comfortable he feels on the courts of Roland Garros. It doesn’t matter what the weather is like, if it’s raining, if it’s windy... To beat him in a five-set match you have to play very, very good tennis.”

The challenge of trying to halt the Spaniard’s progress is one that Pablo Carreno Busta is all too familiar with. The recent Roland Garros quarter-finalist has first-hand experience of his countryman’s greatness.

“It’s difficult to say anything new about Rafa,” said Carreno Busta. “He’s been playing for so many years at such a high level, producing surprises every season. He’s a true one-of-a-kind! He’s a player who has made history by winning 13 French Opens and all the Grand Slams he has won. 100 [match] wins in Paris is something that will never be repeated. He’s a one-off player who is setting an unbelievable record at this tournament. It’s not just that it will never be repeated, it’s that the next person will be so far behind him.”

World No. 18 Carreno Busta also talked about his off-court experiences with Nadal, adding, “He’s also a great person. I’m lucky enough to know him quite well and to have shared many moments with him. Many of them have been really good. He should be congratulated for everything he is achieving.”

Alberto Ramos-Vinolas, one of the few Spaniards to have faced Nadal in an ATP Masters 1000 final on clay at the 2017 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, said, “There aren’t many words to define this. Having 13 French Opens is something I don’t think will ever be seen again in the history of tennis. He’s always showing that he’s from another planet. When you are opposite him and knock up with him, even if it’s just three balls, you can see that the ball comes back in an otherworldly way.”

Pablo Andujar said, “Everything has been said about Rafa. And it’s not just a question of Roland Garros. It’s clear that he’s going to be the best player in history on clay. It is more difficult to have an upset in five sets. Nobody will beat or reach the record he has in Paris. Nobody in all of history will manage to do what he has done.”

Andujar, remembering a memorable Roland Garros duel with Nadal in 2011, added, “I’ll always remember that day. I played pretty well. Despite him not playing great, Rafa eventually beat me. I got it to 5-1, 40/0 in the third set and that’s when you see his greatness. One of the greatest strengths is that he always believes he’s going to win. In the end he won that set 7-6(4). If it had been another player, at 5-1, 40/0, I’d have been thinking of the fourth set. However, he was always capable of playing increasingly better and believing. For me, that makes him the No. 1 mentally, without a doubt.”

At Roland Garros, Nadal reigns supreme. With universal respect, his record goes beyond the numbers.