What if it was the year or never? There are not many trophies missing in the windows of Rafael Nadal’s academy in Manacor. The Spaniard, 34, has yet to succeed in planting the tree work given to the winner of the Rolex Paris Masters in his Mallorcan garden.
Finalist in 2007, the world n ° 2 rarely shone on the Central of the Accor Arena. Untouchable in the conquest of the West of Paris with his 13 Roland-Garros, Nadal does not find Eden in the East, where many triggers, starting with the five-time winner Novak Djokovic, were worn pale this week.
“It’s a surface on which I have to be 100% to be able to express myself,” sums up the man with the 20 Grand Slams. The end of the season is a period when I often arrived physically and mentally tired. I had a lot of problems, I withdrew several times… ”
In 19 years on the circuit, the Iberian has only played the Masters 1000 in the capital seven times. With two withdrawals in his last two participations, including one withdrawal last year before his semi-final against Shapovalov due to abdominal pain …
“But hey, what happened is past,” he breathes. If I thought negative every time, I wouldn’t come and play! I have to be aware of the situation, but the circumstances are always different. Pandemic forces, Nadal enjoys an unusual freshness in the fall. Absent from the US summer tour, he has played only two tournaments (Rome and Roland Garros) since last March.
Only Agassi managed the double in Paris
“He wants to continue to write history and winning here is another challenge for him,” admires Guy Forget, tournament director. We have the impression that he went from the Porte d’Auteuil to that of Bercy in a snap, with the same common thread. He puts the same rigor, the same intensity from the first hour of training. He gives a wonderful lesson in resilience and the ability to give the best as a player and ambassador of his sport. He is also here because he defends tennis, he is aware of his duties towards other players. “
Nadal, who distinguished himself in golf during his break (6th in the Balearic Championship, he plays with a handicap of -0.3, or almost pro), had nevertheless left some doubt after having rested his 13th Musketeers Cup. “I didn’t really hesitate to come here and go to the London Masters afterwards (Editor’s note: from November 15 to 22, another event that he has never won), he corrects. I just wanted to talk to my people about it. At the moment, the circumstances are unpredictable, you have to be flexible and know how to adapt. “
Only one player, André Agassi, achieved the Parisian double the same year (1999). “Rafa is more cornered here, more accessible than at Roland Garros where it’s a real job of undermining in five sets, observes Forget. But he has the weapons to do it. Last month, he was able to impose his power and especially his length. He can beat all players by keeping this tactical pattern. “
Article original de: www.leparisien.fr