Rafael Nadal: 'I am playing probably the most important event of...'
by SIMONE BRUGNOLI | VIEW 14278
Rafael Nadal will once again be the main favorite for the victory at Roland Garros, which will start a week late due to the delicate health situation in France. The Spanish phenomenon is currently tied with Roger Federer at 20 Slam titles, but if successful he would make an unexpected and historic overtaking.
The former world number 1 will have to watch his back above all from Novak Djokovic, intent on taking revenge after last year's beating, Dominic Thiem (two-time finalist in Paris), Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev.
The 34-year-old from Manacor enters the second Slam of the season with two trophies on the showcase, won respectively in Barcelona and Rome last week. Unlike many other times, the Iberian did not seem invulnerable on this surface, having had to cancel match points in both tournaments won in 2021.
In a long interview with 'Bleacher Report', Nadal insisted that the his real goal is not the all-time Grand Slam record.
Rafael Nadal on the French Open
"I am not approaching the event like it's an amazing opportunity to achieve the 21st Grand Slam," Rafael Nadal said.
"I'm approaching Roland Garros like I am playing probably the most important event of my tennis career. ... Of course, I would love to have [the 21st], but for me, it's about Roland Garros. The day when [you don't feel pressure] is the day to say goodbye," Rafael Nadal said.
"Without those emotions, the pressure, it's difficult to play at your best level. I think you need to feel these feelings. It's always a personal pressure, I want to play well, I know the things that I need to do and I know if I am able to play at my highest level I hope to have my chances to play well and to be very competitive there." Novak Djokovic lost to Rafael Nadal in the final of the Italian Open.
"It doesn't get bigger of a challenge on clay than playing Rafa in finals," Djokovic said after his loss. Rafael Nadal clinched his 20th Grand Slam title at French Open 2020. In the process, he also won his 13th French Open title and improved his overall win-loss record to 100-2.
Since making his debut at Roland Garros in 2005, Nadal has just lost twice in Paris. In 2015, Nadal was not in his best form. Coming to Roland Garros, Nadal didn’t win a single European clay-court title and looked jaded.
His initial few rounds were good, but the quarterfinal was a mess. As Nadal’s ranking had dropped to 7th, he was in danger of facing Djokovic early on. And the draw placed them on collision course in the quarterfinals.