Watch: Rafael Nadal practices with his former Roland Garros rival

Rafael Nadal and Sebastian Korda shared the Court Philippe-Chatrier

by Jovica Ilic
Watch: Rafael Nadal practices with his former Roland Garros rival
© Stream screenshot

Rafael Nadal hit the Court Philippe-Chatrier on Tuesday, practicing at his beloved Major ahead of his 19th Roland Garros appearance. Rafa played a training match with the young American Sebastian Korda, leading 6-3, 5-3 before they left the court.

Nadal is preparing for what could be his last Roland Garros, struggling with a hip injury and playing only six tournaments since the beginning of 2023. The Spaniard missed almost an entire 2023 season before returning to action in Brisbane in the first week of 2024.

Rafa felt the pain again following a tight loss to Jordan Thompson, skipping the Australian Open and experiencing another blow. The veteran could not play in Doha, Indian Wells and Monte Carlo due to abdominal issues. He cared for it and returned to action in Barcelona, Madrid and Rome.

The king of clay clinched five wins at his favorite tournaments, gaining some confidence and hoping for a better run at Roland Garros.

Rafael Nadal & Sebastian Korda, Roland Garros 2020© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Rafael Nadal trained with Sebastian Korda at Roland Garros.

Rafa and Sebastian met in the French capital four years ago, with the young gun passing three qualifying rounds and reaching the fourth round at only his second Major! Korda arranged the duel against his idol, and Nadal ousted him 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 in an hour and 55 minutes.

Rafa denied five out of six break points, keeping the pressure on his opponent and ending Sebastian's run after delivering eight breaks from 11 chances. Nadal denied two break points in the first game of the match with service winners and grabbed a break in the next one after Korda's backhand error.

The Spaniard landed a volley winner in the third game, cementing the lead and delivering another break in game four after the American's double fault. Rafa landed a forehand winner in the fifth game, extending his streak before Sebastian added his name to the scoreboard with a hold at love in game six.

Nadal closed the seventh game after a deuce, wrapping up the opener 6-1 in 37 minutes.

Rafael Nadal, Roland Garros 2020© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Rafa lost four points behind the initial shot in the second set, mounting the pressure on the other side.

He broke Sebastian three times, enough for another 6-1 scoreline! The youngster lost serve in the first game after a forehand mistake before Nadal held in the next one for 2-0. Sebastian sprayed a backhand error in the fifth game, falling 4-1 behind and serving to stay in the set in game seven.

Rafa clinched another break, opening a 6-1, 6-1 advantage after 69 minutes and moving closer to the finish line. Suddenly, Korda broke Nadal at the beginning of the third set and held after deuces in game two for 2-0, already doing better than in the opening two sets.

Rafa turned the tables and rattled off the remaining six games, dominating on serve and return and sealing the deal in style. The Spaniard broke back in game four and claimed the next two games without losing a point for 4-2.

Nadal saved two break points in the seventh game and grabbed his third straight break at 5-2 for a comfortable victory. Rafa could face Sebastian in the first round in Paris, entering the draw with a protected ranking and starting his first Roland Garros campaign without being ranked in the top-10.

Sebastian Korda, Roland Garros 2020© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Rafael Nadal Roland Garros Sebastian Korda