Without suffering there is no glory. No matter how great the domain and how much the level of Rafael Nadal on clay is apparently unrepeatable in the history of this sport, the Spanish has cemented his feat of winning twelve titles in Roland Garros, not only based on natural ease on this surface, innate talent, effort and tactical clairvoyance, but also displaying its best version at critical moments and overcoming notable challenges and adverse situations.

It is worth looking back and recalling who were those brave men who challenged the established power of the genius of Manacor, who holds a record of 93 wins and 2 losses in the Parisian tournament and has won three of his titles there without giving up a single set. He landed there on May 23, 2005, a few days after his 19th birthday, and demonstrated from the outset that these intangibles are only visible in the legends of the sport. His idyll with Paris is still being written, but while we wait for one more line to be added to the script of this science fiction movie, we review what the most difficult moments of the Balearic have been on the road to glory.

Roland Garros 2005

After three comfortable first rounds against Burgsmuller, Malisse and Gasquet, the Balearic faced one of the local idols: Sebastien Grosjean. It was in that game where the black legend was built on the relationship between Rafa and the French public, completely diluted over the years. The Spanish is loved and admired in France, but that day in the round of 16 he had to attend a real lock-up. A dubious ball that Steiner, the chairman of the match, did not want to review, served to inflame a crowd that took offense at the fact and devoted himself to booing the Spaniard without hesitation, interrupting the match for eight minutes.

Nadal lost the serve, delivered the second set, but his reaction was worthy of the champion he would be; he scored a convincing 6-0 in the third set, silenced the stands and closed the game in four sets. Later, he would lose a partial in the semifinals before Roger Federer, in one of the games that marked the hatching of the Balearic Islands, while in the final he also saw how Mariano Puerta It put him in trouble by winning a set.

Roland Garros 2006

It was not easy for a fledgling Rafa to revalidate his title, suffering the challenge in the first week of the tournament of two experienced players with a lot of character: Paul-Henri Mathieu and Lleyton Hewitt. Before the Gallic, another memorable episode took place that supposed a remarkable tension between the Balearic Islands and the French fans. The match was tied to a set, and at a key moment in the third set, serving and in tow in that game, Nadal headed to the saddle and stopped the match.

There were many who did not understand what was happening and took it with the Spanish, ostensibly booing him for having refused to continue in the middle of a game. The problem was serious: Rafa felt that he was choking on a piece of banana that had gotten stuck. The attitude of the stands only motivated a player who solved a very difficult match. He also faced Hewitt in the round of 16, after giving up a sleeve. In the grand final, he recovered from the initial 1-6 of Roger Federer to close his victory in four sets.

Roland Garros 2007

Perfect tournament until reaching the final, having to face just one tiebreak against Hewitt in the round of 16. Nadal’s dominance was immeasurable and just Roger Federer could put you on the spot. It was in a final resolved 6-3 4-6 6-3 6-4, and in which Rafa transmitted sensations of enormous power.

– Roland Garros 2008

One of the editions in which Nadal showed his steamroller version. He did not let a single sleeve escape and the only ones who forced him a little in some, were Bellucci, in the first set of the tournament for Rafa, solved by 7-5, and Djokovic in the semifinals, forcing him to play a tiebreak in the third set . There was no color in the grand final, being one of Nadal’s most severe corrections to Federer in his entire history of confrontations, winning 6-1 6-3 6-0.

– Roland Garros 2009

The impossible came true. Robin soderling He blew up the bench with an inexplicable victory for many and in which the Swede surrendered to a supreme level. He could not impose his authority Nadal, who had shown good feelings in the previous rounds, but ran into the first of his defeats in Paris.

– Roland Garros 2010

Action Reaction. That year, Rafa landed in Paris with the conviction of claiming his private hunting ground in the facilities of the Forest of Bologna, and he did so with a demonstration of unscathed power. Not one set on loan and three tiebreaks played; two against Almagro, in the quarters, and one against Melzer, in the semifinals.

– Roland Garros 2011

All tennis fans can still feel the shock in their bodies. Rafa had to resort to the fifth sleeve to prevail over a John Isner impeccable. The American signed 13 direct serves, saved ten break balls against and took advantage of the only one available to him. Small details decided the game in favor of a Nadal who came out morally strengthened. He made an incredible comeback to Andújar on a second-round set, won a tiebreak to Soderling and countered one of the best versions of Roger Federer in Paris, in a final resolved in four sets.

– Roland Garros 2012

The overwhelming version shown in Spanish in this edition, in which only Novak Djokovic he was able to put his domain in a bind. It was in the final, in which he managed to start a set from the Spanish, but a new title for Nadal never seemed to be in danger.

– Roland Garros 2013

There is no doubt that this was the most suffered edition for the Balearic Islands. He lost the first set of the tournament to Daniel Brands and went 0-3 down in the second tiebreak, he gave in again in the first round of his duel against Martin Klizan, He had to get his best version to beat Fognini in three sets and, in the semifinals, he hit his face with the biggest challenge he has had to face in the French tournament. Novak Djokovic pushed Rafa’s mental resistance to the limit and was very close to winning. 9-7 in the fifth set in Nadal’s favor completed one of the best duels in the entire history of the tournament.

– Roland Garros 2014

It is striking that this year the first of the duels between Nadal and Thiem took place in the Gallic event. It was in the second round and the Balearic solved it easily (6-2 6-2 6-3). We would have to wait for the quarterfinals, against David ferrer, to see how hostilities broke out. The one from Jávea won a set, but ended up giving in clearly, as he would too Novak Djokovic in the final, resolved in four sets.

– Roland Garros 2015

Here the miracle occurred, although according to how Nadal arrived at that tournament and the state of form of Novak Djokovic, the final result was not so surprising. The Spaniard had already suffered against Jack Sock in the round of 16, and he was left without arguments to impose himself on his intimate enemy, in a historic match in the tournament.

– Roland Garros 2016

Nadal’s most bitter passage through Paris. After two rounds in which he had no problems against Groth and Bagnis, a severe wrist injury forced him to retire without jumping onto the track in the third round against Marcel Granollers. The despair of the Spanish at a press conference speaks for itself.

– Roland Garros 2017

The most splendid and forceful tournament in Spanish. Overwhelming from start to finish, only three players were able to play four games for him on any set: Paire, Haase and Thiem. Absolutely enormous what was experienced that year in each game of the Balearic Islands.

Roland Garros 2018

The only one who could make the Spanish suffer minimally was Diego Schwartzman, in a really interesting quarterfinal match and in which the rain threw a cable to the Spanish when he was suffering the most. In the first round he was very close to losing a set against Bolelli, and Marterer led him to another tiebreak, something that neither Del Potro nor Thiem, their rivals in the semifinal and final, could do.

– Roland Garros 2019

The whirlwind of tennis re-emerged, only partially interrupted by a David Goffin who embroidered the sport for a few minutes that reportedly won him a set, just as Dominic Thiem did in the final. Apart from them, there was no color for a Nadal who added his twelfth wound in the French Grand Slam.