Watch: Rafael Nadal arrives in Paris. Is this his final Roland Garros?

Rafael Nadal is ready to give everything in Paris in the next two weeks

by Jovica Ilic
Watch: Rafael Nadal arrives in Paris. Is this his final Roland Garros?
© Mike Hewitt / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Rafael Nadal touched down in Paris on Monday, marking the commencement of his 19th Roland Garros campaign. A 14-time champion returns to his cherished Major after a one-year hiatus due to a severe hip injury. Since the outset of 2023, Rafa has participated in only six tournaments, grappling with setbacks that have impeded his ability to compete at full strength and contemplating retirement if he fails to improve his physical condition.

Nadal has yet to return to his best, and he hopes to improve his form at Roland Garros and chase the title on what could be his last trip to the clay major. Rafa lost in the second round in Barcelona in April in his first clay-court event in almost two years.

He raised his level in Madrid, beating three rivals before falling to Jiri Lehecka in the fourth round.

Rafael Nadal, Rome 2024© Mike Hewitt / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Rafael Nadal is ready for his 19th Roland Garros.

Hubert Hurkacz was too strong for the king of clay in Rome, with Rafa playing miles below his best after struggling with his movement and shotmaking. However, the Spaniard is ready to give everything in Paris despite the lack of form and the best-of-five challenges, counting on his experience on the notable scene and his incredible Roland Garros record.

Rafa is the most dominant player at a single Major in tennis history, winning 112 out of 115 matches and conquering 14 titles from 18 appearances since 2005. Nadal conquered his 22nd Major crown in Paris two years ago, extending his incredible streak in the French capital before skipping his favorite Major for the first time since 2004 in 2023.

Rafael Nadal, Rome Masters 2024© Mike Hewitt / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Rafa is yet to lose the Roland Garros final, and Casper Ruud could not change that two years ago. The Spaniard defeated the Norwegian 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 in two hours and 18 minutes, extending the GOAT race gap in front of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

Casper could not challenge the king of clay in his first Major final, losing serve eight times from 16 chances offered to Rafa. The favorite landed 37 winners and 18 unforced errors, controlling the pace and toppling his rival in the more advanced exchanges.

Nadal had the upper hand in the mid-range rallies, outplaying Ruud and taking the final 11 games from 3-1 down in the second set! Rafa will sail through the uncharted waters in Paris this year, entering the draw with a protected ranking and setting a possible first-round encounter with the rivals from the top.

However, no one wants to see Rafa on the other side of the net, as his incredible Roland Garros legacy boosts his confidence in what could be his last showdown in Paris.

Rafael Nadal Roland Garros