But imagine the psychological obstacle of facing a player so dominant that he is immortalized in a statue outside the stadium?
It’s an unusual tribute to an active player who is always at the top of his game, but there is nothing usual about Rafa’s race to Roland Garros. His all-time record is 100-2. The inscription on the statue can just as easily read: “Abandon hope, all of you who enter here.
The steel sculpture is also a far cry from Rafa’s first rendering, which has inspired some … unusual artistic tributes over the years.
Here are a few.
Rafa, in steel
The new statue, by Spanish sculptor Jordi Díez Fernandez, is made entirely of steel and stands almost 10 feet tall. It shows Nadal playing with his characteristic intensity, hair flying as he pursues his punishing forehand.
But some wondered if that was a bit premature, given that Nadal, 34, does not appear to be close to retirement.
… in bronze
… in clay
The statue was then displayed in a Nike store in Paris.
Some critics have noted that the racquet is in Nadal’s right hand, even though he is playing left-handed.
This figure of a Nadal with a baby’s face is in the Madame Tussaud wax museum in Amsterdam. Similar incarnations of the tennis star have been on display at other Madame Tussaud’s in London and Istanbul.
Nadal posed with this terracotta statue of himself in 2007 in Madrid, where he was participating in a tournament.
Even Rafa looks a little unsure about this one.
In Lego. Haha, no it’s Andy Murray
The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club displayed this Lego statue of Briton Andy Murray on the day of his match against Nadal at Wimbledon in 2011.
If that was supposed to bring Murray luck, it didn’t work. Nadal won in four sets.