"Rafa, he is out of this world, I don't know if he is an alien or what. Not one day we went to sleep before 3am this week."
Roland-Garros boost in country colours for Barty and Nadal
The 2019 Roland-Garros singles champions backed up sublime individual seasons with final showings wearing their national colours.
"One of these weeks we'll never forget”
The world No.1 was the talisman in Madrid last week, leading Spain to a sixth Davis Cup triumph. The 33-year-old embraced the inaugural edition of the new format at the Caja Magica to win all eight of his matches.
“When you finally win the title after all the things that we went through this week, and playing at home, it is something difficult to describe,” said the 12-time Roland-Garros champion, who hasn’t lost a Davis Cup rubber since 2004.
“It's an amazing feeling, to share this victory too with the rest of the team, our six – and there is a much bigger team behind the scenes. We can't thank all of them enough.
“I’m super-happy, honestly, it's one of these weeks that we'll never forget.”
Perfect end of the season
Nadal, crowned the ‘MVP’ in Madrid, courtesy of his five singles and three doubles wins, signed off 2019 in style. The ‘King of Clay’ was particularly impressive on the major stage, with a final appearance at the Australian Open and semi-final showing at Wimbledon.
The Spaniard was captivating on the terre battue once again to retain his Coupe des Mousquetaires at Roland-Garros, whilst lifting the US Open was significant too, enabling him to finish as the year-end No.1 for an astonishing fifth time.
“After a very, very long and tough week for me physically and mentally, too, because the energy that I tried to put into every single moment of the whole event has been all that I have inside me,” declared the 19-time Grand Slam champion. “Honestly, it's the perfect end of the season for all of us.”
"Out of this planet"
World No.9 Roberto Bautista Agut, competing just three days after his father’s death, sent the hosts ahead with an inspiring 7-6(3), 6-3 scoreboard facing Next Gen star Felix Auger-Aliassime.
Nadal then stepped up to clinch an unassailable lead for Spain, with a pulsating 6-3, 7-6(7) passage past Denis Shapovalov, before falling to the court in complete exhaustion.
“We knew that we needed to convert this opportunity, and we fought very hard. What Roberto did today is out of this planet, in my opinion,” stated Nadal.
“But our team is great. I don't see a lot of teams that all five players took part in the competition. Everybody played a match at least, and that makes this competition even more special because everybody in our team participated in the victory.”
History-making campaign for Barty
Fellow Roland-Garros singles champion Ash Barty also flourished representing her nation’s colours in 2019.
The 23-year-old is the first Australian woman to finish a season as the world No.1 following a history-making campaign.
Barty lost just two sets en route to lifting a maiden major at Roland-Garros back in June. The all-court, crafty game won the Australian a legion of fans in Paris and that stunning game also propelled Barty to WTA Finals glory in Shenzhen as a singles debutant.
Over to the Fed Cup final and Barty arrived in Perth unbeaten in the 2019 edition, but despite a valiant effort from the Australians, it was France who prevailed 3-2 in a thrilling finale.
Bitter sweet ending to an outrageously fun journey with this Family 💚💛 pic.twitter.com/b2fxiFcgH7— Ash Barty (@ashbarty) November 11, 2019
“Obviously it’s bitterly disappointing to be sitting here not with the result we were after,” said reigning Roland-Garros champion Barty out in Perth, searching for the positives as per usual. “But all in all, it’s about taking a bit of perspective, and this team, this group of girls – personally I wouldn’t want to be sitting here with anyone else.
“Now it’s about resting, recovering and reflecting on the year that’s been, for me and for all of us. From a Fed Cup-specific point of view, the journey we’ve been on has just been remarkable, it really has. Even though it’s bloody tough now, in a couple of days’ time we’ll be alright. To be able to be in the Fed Cup final is something that is very precious. We’ll cherish it, and it’ll drive us more for next year.”