Rafael Nadal should be happy to return to the field in the tournament that gave him the greatest joys of his long and extraordinary career, namely Roland Garros. But it doesn't seem so at all. Because what he finds this year is not the French Open he knows.
It is a cold tournament. Because it is played in autumn and the Parisian climate does not seem to be at all mild. Because there is a lack of people, due to the need to avoid gatherings and thus minimize the possibility of new infections.
There is a new roof on the power plant that does not even protect too well from the rain and makes a hellish noise when it pours. There are new balls that help make playing conditions even slower. In short, a different Roland Garros and therefore, for Rafa, more difficult and dangerous.
The Spaniard looks ahead to bid for 20th Grand Slam crown.
Spaniard looks ahead to bid for 20th Grand Slam crown
“I always have been beatable on clay. [Novak] beat me a lot of times,” said Rafael Nadal. “But at the same time [it] is true that I had a lot of success on this surface.
[The] situation is special. Conditions here probably are the most difficult conditions for me ever in Roland Garros for so many different [reasons]. The ball completely different. The ball is super slow, heavy. It's very cold.
Slow conditions. Of course, the preparation have been less than usual. But you know what, I am here to fight and to play with the highest intensity possible, to practise with the right attitude, to give [myself] a chance. That's the main goal for me.
Be competitive on Monday, and let's try. Just day-by-day. I know this place very well. It is about being patient, being positive, just trying to find the positive vibes every single day. We are just about to start a very important event, the most important event in my tennis career historically,” said Nadal.
“I am just happy to be back here in this place… The situation is a little bit more difficult than usual without a doubt. But that's it. I going to keep trying my best. I know [it is] going to be a big challenge to play well here.
But I did it in the past… I know very well I have to keep giving [myself] chances to find the best level possible”. By accepting that this Roland Garros will be like no other he has played before, Nadal has been able to relax and focus his mind on one simple goal: to find his best level.
It is a goal he has managed to achieve on 12 previous visits to the tournament. Only time will tell if his bid for a 13th Coupe des Mousquetaires will be successful. “What you need is the right energy to accept every single thing.
That's what I am doing,” said Nadal. “Just stay positive knowing that the conditions are not perfect for me, maybe not perfect for others either, and accept that I [am] going to need my best version to have chances.
I am just relaxed knowing that it's a very special year. I am here just to give myself a chance to enjoy another Roland Garros and, of course, to try my best to be competitive and fight for the final goal”.