20-time grand slam champion, Rafael Nadal was named the 2021 Laureus Sportsman of the year on Thursday. This was due to his record-breaking performance in 2020. He won a record 13th French Open title and doing so equalled Roger Federer’s record of 20 grand slams.
Having won the award previously in 2011, Nadal was a nominee in 2009, 2014, 2018 and 2020. This year. he was nominated alongside Joshua Cheptegei, Armand Duplantis, Lewis Hamilton, LeBron James and Robert Lewandowski for the prestigious award.
After the win, Nadal reflected on what the award meant to him and his fans in these unprecedented times. Rafa said: “It is wonderful and especially at this point in my career. It means a lot to me. During this 2020 and these problems around the world with this terrible virus, receiving this award is very exciting and the most unexpected award I have received in my life.”
‘Playing again was complicated because I didn’t really know if I wanted to go back or not’: Rafael Nadal
Nadal has been very vocal about the COVID-19 pandemic. He has time and again sympathized with the people who are suffering. Now he even said that if given a choice, he would give away his latest Roland Garros title if everything could be back to normal. He also spoke about going into the French Open without much practice.
He said: “I would take away that Roland Garros for being able to erase everything that happened. They have been hard times because many people have lost relatives, their jobs … Playing again was complicated because I didn’t really know if I wanted to go back or not.”
“I missed the US Open, but I needed to make that decision. My preparation at Roland Garros was poor and I hardly played tournaments. “
On the ATP tour, Nadal was knocked out of the Madrid Masters by 5th seed Alexander Zverev in the quarter-final. He will be back in action next week at the Italian Open.