Rafael Nadal —

Sportstar - - CHESS COLUMN -

A decade ago, some “ex­perts” pre­dicted that Nadal, in­jury­prone and play­ing a gru­elling style, would have a short ca­reer. But this force of na­ture has proved them wrong. Now 32, he’s play­ing with the same, al­most­su­per­hu­man in­ten­sity as he did when he burst onto the pro scene with pi­rate

pants and sleeve­less shirts in 2003. By win­ning a record 11th French Open in June and a record 33rd Masters 1000 ti­tle at Toronto re­cently, the fist­pump­ing, “Vamos”­shout­ing Spa­niard has shown he re­mains as for­mi­da­ble as ever. As Ste­fanos Tsit­si­pas said af­ter los­ing to Nadal in the Toronto fi­nal, “He will al­ways grab you like a bull­dog, and he will al­ways make you suf­fer on the court. He was [once] nor­mal like all of us, and he man­aged to

be­come this beast, this mon­ster that he is to­day.” The mon­ster from Mal­lorca won’t win his sec­ond straight US Open, but he’ll make the fi­nal.

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