Can Rafael Nadal really hope to win the Roland Garros?

The Spanish champion is finally back on the court: let's see how his body will react to the next efforts

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Can Rafael Nadal really hope to win the Roland Garros?
© @bcnopenbs X account

After giving up on the ATP Masters 1000 in Indian Wells and Monte Carlo, Rafael Nadal came back to compete at the ATP 500 in Barcelona, immediately finding a convincing victory. The Spanish tennis player in fact defeated the Italian Flavio Cobolli in straight sets (6-2, 6-3), showing a reasonable physical level.

A positive performance which, however, saw Nadal not force the serve too much. In the second round, the Spanish champion will be able to test his current physical level against one of the best players of the season, Alex de Minaur.

"Playing is always a source of joy, this is the reality. I'm very happy, it couldn't be otherwise. The most important thing is to have played, the rest takes second place. We won't know anything until the end of the week. For me it's important that nothing happens. Even if it's difficult, maybe it's not the right week to do everything my heart tells me. We will do things in the best possible way, with a lot of logic," explained Nadal during the press conference.

"It's positive that today's match went like this, it was an excellent start. I don't know how my body will respond tomorrow, but I'm realistic considering what I've felt over the last year and a half. We'll see how far I push it, but I'll try not to overstep the boundaries. This week, however, there is an important change. I feel like I'm competitive and I'm having fun: all this was quite far away a week ago.

Things change quickly. I don't think it was a super surprise, because in training I felt good and I played against high-level tennis players. I played the match I had to play and managed to win in two sets, but my opponent helped me by making mistakes. Against De Minaur you will need more," he added.

The question everyone is asking, however, is: what is Nadal's real and current physical level? The second round in Barcelona may provide some answers, although not necessarily definitive.

And then again: can Rafael Nadal really hope to win the Roland Garros? Of course, if Rafa was in perfect physical condition, the answer would be obvious. To date, despite the good performance against Cobolli, it will be difficult for Nadal to win these two tournaments, which he should play for the last time in his career.

His current physical condition is not yet at its best, but I intend to review this prediction a few days before the start of the Roland Garros. And I'll explain you why.

Rafa still has a month and a half before arriving at the Roland Garros. In this period of time he can improve his physical form and, above all, he can play matches, accumulating pace and sensations on the court. Between Barcelona, Madrid and Rome, Nadal can prudently but actively gain fitness and confidence, in view of Paris. Then, in Bois de Boulogne, we all know that Rafa transforms.

The friendly crowd, the Philippe Chatrier, where he won the title 14 times, the air of the Roland Garros Stadium. All situations that could galvanize Nadal in the Parisian Fortnight. The flip side of the coin is the two weeks of the Slam tournament with best-of-five sets matches.

Can Rafa's body handle that pressure?

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal© @bcnopenbs X account

Toni Nadal's words about his nephew

In a recent interview during the presentation of the new edition of the Mallorca Open, scheduled from 23 to 29 June, Uncle Toni spoke about Nadal's expectations and possibilities at the Spanish tournament and, in general, about the entire clay-court season.

Rafa Nadal's uncle and former coach has spoken out about the end of his nephew's career.

"We hope that 2024 is not the last season for Rafael, but he knows that in June he will be 38 years old and his body no longer responds as it did when he was younger," he said.

However, his return to the tennis court, three months after his last appearance in Brisbane against Jordan Thompson, gives rise to hope.

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal© @bcnopenbs X account

The Spaniard struggled only at the beginning of the second set, losing his serve, but he immediately recovered and controlled the advantage over the Italian tennis player.

The 37-year-old Spaniard won with a score of 6-2 6-3. A good performance, as I said above, full of positive signs, demonstrating that the 22-time Slam champion still wants to put on a show and give himself some joy. The match in Catalonia, 700 days after his last official match on clay, surprised even Toni Nadal.

And, already as I said at the beginning of my editorial, an important test for Nadal will come already in the second round, where the former number one will meet the Australian Alex De Minaur, one of the fittest tennis players of 2024 and fresh from the quarter-final reached at the ATP Master 1000 in Monte Carlo.

Meanwhile, on X there will be a lot of posts and videos on Rafa's win over Cobolli. Below you can read the most recents:

Rafael Nadal Roland Garros