On the empty central of the Accor Arena, Rafael Nadal poses in front of a huge 1000 panel. Beating in pain and without too much convincing his compatriot Feliciano Lopez (4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 in 2h30) , the world n ° 2 offered his 1000th victory on the ATP circuit!
Lacking benchmarks in a deserted room and on a surface that he had not visited for a long time, the recent winner of Roland-Garros had difficulty finding his settings.
Imperial serving for two rounds, the veteran Toledo, 39, who had already beaten Nadal four times out of nine, has long delayed the inevitable. With an entry break, the director of the Masters 1000 in Madrid took the lead without ever weakening in the first set, despite two break points to be erased at 2-1.
“It was a difficult start against a very good player on this surface,” says Nadal. He knows me well and I started in the worst possible way by losing my faceoff to a great server like him. It put a lot of pressure on me the rest of the game. But I’m very proud of this victory, the satisfaction is much greater than when you win 6-3, 6-3. “
In the second set, in his outfit degraded from dark green to pink, quick to alert the Parisian fashion police, the recent winner of Roland-Garros had many opportunities to take off, with two break points at 2 -1, then three at 3-2, the last of which was spoiled by a forehand penalty in the corridor.
“I am proud to have been able to keep the passion and the desire”
But there are evenings like that… So he had to wait for the decisive game (when he had lost four out of four against his rival) to finally reverse the trend.
With a white station wagon at the start of the last round, the man with the 20 Grand Slams was able to unfold more quietly without completely convincing. Sufficient however to put in the 1000!
“1000 victories, it means above all that I’m old,” smiles the Manacori, 34 years old. But it also means that I have been playing well for so long, because that number is not easy to reach (Editor’s note: only Connors, Lendl and Federer have passed him). It makes me happy and I have to thank everyone who has helped me get to this at some point in my life. Even though there was no one in the stands to share it, it’s a very special moment. “
The sign of a longevity that few people thought he was capable of fifteen years ago, during his first Grand Slam success in Paris. “I am proud to have been able to keep the passion and the desire to play tennis despite stoppages and injuries,” he continues. To have been able to keep the hunger from continuing even having accomplished a lot of goals. To have been humble in accepting challenges, also accepting that things do not always go the way I wanted… ”
The 1001st against Thompson in the 8th?
Absences in packages (he had to give up last year before the semi-finals due to an injury to the abdominal belt), the protégé of Carlos Moya, who only played the Paris Masters 1000 seven times, is in quest for one of the few trophies that are still missing from his immense prize list.
In his previous attempts, he has always arrived at least in the quarter-finals. He will meet on Thursday in 8th the Australian Thompson, striker of the Croatian Coric (n ° 15).
“I’ve been training pretty well the last few days, a first game is always complicated but my serve helps me a lot more today than at one time,” he explains. We are leaving for the 1001st, it’s the athlete’s job… ”
Article original de: www.leparisien.fr