On Sunday, Nadal did not fall to the ground.
Maybe there wasn't need for such antics. He raised his arms over his head and pumped his fist. He had little doubt that the outcome would be.
He did it many times at the French Open.
Nadal had just defeated a student from his academy in the finals. Nadal won the final 11 games for a 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 victory, cementing his legacy as one of the greatest tennis players of all time.
During his trophy ceremony, Nadal said it was difficult to describe his feelings. I never thought it was true. Being at 36 and playing on the most important court of my career means everything. I'm not sure what's going to happen in the future, but I'm going to keep fighting to keep going.
For a man nicknamed the "King of Clay," who had already won a record-breaking 13 titles at the tournament and has his own statue on the grounds, Nadal's hoisting of yet another trophy may seem like no surprise for some. Even Predictable.
This year's result was nothing but a disappointment. It was obvious that Nadal was grateful.
He had a stressFracture in his ribs at Indian Wells. Until days before the start of the tournament, his status was in doubt because of his foot injury and his last tune up tournament. No one knew what to expect from Nadal when he said he would play.
Even though Nadal made his way through the draw, he was not expected to. His personal doctor on site for daily treatment allowed him to pull off one impressive win after another, including over world No. 1 and 2021 champion Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals and against No. 9 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime in a five-set thriller. I think he went back to the final.
Despite the odds, Nadal has won his 22nd major title and is the oldest French Open winner.
"Rafa getting to 22 and 14 titles at the French Open is one of the greatest achievements in sports," said Pam Shriver, the 21-time major doubles champion. He didn't need to win one more to be the GOAT, but he has distanced himself from everyone else. He's halfway to the grand slam.
There was a lot of adulation for Nadal on Sunday. They all weighed in on his contributions to the sport on social media. "The King" was written by the No. 6-ranked women's player.
He was at the end of the tournament last year.
Even though Nadal had a foot injury, he wasn't sure if he'd be able to play again. He played in the Citi Open in Washington after losing in the semifinals of the French Open. Many wondered if the end was near for Nadal's career after his performance in the capital.
He withdrew from the Canadian Open in August because of the pain, which he said was preventing him from enjoying tennis and allowing him to play with the fiery intensity he had become known for.
He doesn't think he has the chance to fight for the things he needs to fight for.
He decided to shut himself down for the year. He revealed that he too had considered walking away from the sport.
"There were a lot of conversations with the team, with the family about what can happen or what is going to happen if things continue like this."
A bout with COVID-19 in December left him immobile and "physically destroyed" and nearly derailed his trip to Australia to start the 2022 season.
He came back.
He made history with his 21st major title. It was an unbelievable, legacy- defining victory over the man. For the most Grand Slam titles by a men's player, it broke a tie with Novak and Roger.
He did not stop at that point. He won the Mexican Open, the next tournament he played, and seemed poised to win his fourth title of the year at Indian Wells but struggled with a stress fracture in his ribs in the finals. His health was betraying him again.
He hopes to be back for the clay season. After just five weeks, he returned to Madrid. He had a problem with his foot during the ItalianOpen. His French Open hopes were gone.
After arriving in Paris, Nadal was engulfed in a sea of questions and confessed that he was trying to manage his foot pain. It wasn't a big deal. If he were able to get to that stage, it was likely that Nadal would be able to beat him.
Over the course of his career, Nadal has let his play do the talking. He defeated Jordan Thompson in just over two hours. Two of his next three matches were straight sets. He had to go through five sets and four hours and 21 minutes to win against Auger-Aliassime. He was absolutely certain that his will and trademark resilience was still there.
Auger-Aliassime said that he raised his level when he needed to. I think he took it a step further, because he was serving well in the fifth set, playing well behind the serve, and being very aggressive.
Nadal wouldn't allow another deciding set. Nadal forced a tiebreak after saving two set points and then serving for the fourth set at a disadvantage.
Nadal was able to keep going. After the match, he said he lost to a better player.
There was a chance that Nadal would face Zverev in the semifinals. After more than three hours of play, the two were locked in a second-set tiebreak when Zvewitz injured his ankle.
Against a young opponent on Sunday, Nadal didn't need extra games or points or an injury to achieve his goal. He took charge from the beginning.
He was able to rattle off with ease all seven of Nadal's previous French Open final opponents, a testament to Nadal's legacy. The Norwegian has been training at Nadal's academy for several years and has been candid about his influence on his career.
"It's your 14th time here, and 22nd all-around in Grand Slams, we all know what a champion you are," he said to Nadal. It's not easy to play against someone in the final. You are an inspiration to all of us who follow tennis around the world. We are hoping that you will continue for a while.
Despite winning the first two majors of the year, Nadal's status for Wimbledon, or the rest of the season, is not certain.
He has a chance to tie Serena Williams' Open Era record of 23 major titles if he succeeds in achieving the elusive calendar slam. Throughout the tournament, Nadal has said that he isn't thinking that far in the future.
He is unable to think about it. Even though he doesn't know how long he'll be able to play tennis, Nadal says every match he plays could be his last. He insisted that he wasn't focused on anything beyond the French Open and was just trying to enjoy every moment.
"I'm not sure what's going to happen after here," Nadal said. If we are not able to find an improvement or a small solution on that, then it's becoming difficult for me. This is it. I enjoy every day that I have the chance to be here and not think about the future.