Facing Rafael Nadal on clay and especially at the French Open is considered one of the toughest, if not the toughest, challenges in the world of tennis. Quite staggeringly, that has been the case for over 17 years now, during which the Spanish great has won the Paris Grand Slam a record 14 times.
Maximilian Marterer is one of the players to have faced this monumental challenge and the German tennis star recently highlighted just how difficult it is to face Rafael Nadal. Marterer went on to declare the Spanish legend as the ‘clay GOAT.’
Speaking exclusively to Sportskeeda, Marterer was quick to term his 2018 French Open fourth-round clash against Nadal the “biggest match of his career.” Playing against the now 22-time Grand Slam champion also gave the German a good look at what separates the best players from the rest.
Marterer explained what further sets the Spaniard apart from most other players in the world. It was Nadal’s unrelenting intensity throughout the duration of even best-of-five sets matches.
“It was indeed the biggest match of my career,” Marterer said in a chat during the ongoing 2023 Tata Open Maharashtra in Pune. “I remember, I was so nervous that day.”
“I saw what makes the differences, like he’s not giving you anything. Even if the match takes a little longer, even if it gets a little closer, he is at a hundred percent through pretty much every game.
“You have to do good for five straight sets. It’s a challenge that not many achieved, especially at the French Open.”
The Former World No. 45 further highlighted the importance of the occasion in his career.
“It was indeed a really beautiful day in my life,” Marterer added.
While most victims of the Spaniard’s 112 match wins so far at the French Open succumbed to heavy losses, Maximilian Marterer did not go down without a fight. Despite a straight-set defeat, the then 23-year-old stretched Nadal to a third-set tiebreak, which he rightly treated as a confidence booster.
“I did well, I got into the tiebreak in the third set of that match,” the German said.
Speaking of Nadal’s legacy as a claycourt player, Maximilian Marterer quite emphatically called the Spaniard the ‘GOAT’ on the red dirt.
“On clay, for sure,” Marterer declared when asked whether the 14-time French Open champion is the greatest of all time.
Maximilian Marterer aims to achieve a feat Rafael Nadal hasn’t at the Tata Open Maharashtra 2023
Maximilian Marterer has the opportunity to start his 2023 season in the most ideal manner by emulating or even bettering one of Rafael Nadal’s many feats. The German hopes to go all the way and clinch the title at the ongoing Tata Open Maharashtra. The Spaniard reached the final of the ATP 250 event back in 2008 when the event was played in Chennai, but could not win the trophy.
Materer’s campaign got off to the perfect start as he made it through qualifying into the main draw starting on Monday.
As he aims to make it back into the world’s top 50 and go even further, the world no. 159 wants to make the most of every opportunity he gets. Marterer hopes that some of those opportunities will come at Grand Slam tournaments.
“At no. 160, you don’t get too many opportunities to play in the ATP,” Marterer explained. “So you have to do very well at the (ATP) Challengers and maybe even the Grand Slams.”
“Give yourself the opportunity to do well in pretty much any tournament and move step by step, improve by the matches you win, and get the confidence you need. I think in the second half of last year I managed to do that better than before .”