Rafael Nadal ‚willing to die‘ at French Open as Spaniard gives reality check | Tennis | Sport


Rafael Nadal made an impassioned statement about the upcoming French Open as he admitted that the tournament was worth „giving everything and dying for“. The Spaniard suffered a defeat in the second round of the Barcelona Open, where he confessed he had likely made his final appearance. And Nadal gave a brutal reality check to those hoping for a fairytale comeback story.

It was a tale of two halves in Nadal’s match against Alex De Minaur as the 37-year-old lost 7-5 6-1. In what was just his fifth match since last January, the Spaniard showed positive signs in a competitive opening set, pushing the world No. 11 for over an hour.

But things quickly fell away in the second set as the Australian broke Nadal’s serve three times and stormed to victory. The 22-time Grand Slam champion hit 42 unforced errors in the match, a telling sign of his lack of match play in recent months.

After the match, Nadal was brutally honest about his expectations as he made his intentions clear about the French Open. „It wasn’t today where I had to be well, it wasn’t today where I had to leave everything and die,“ the 12-time Barcelona Open champion said.

„I have to give myself the option of being able to do that in a few weeks, or at least try.“ Instead, Nadal believes that the French Open is the tournament worth sacrificing everything for. He continued: „I have to measure how I feel.

„If I manage to accumulate a week of training with high-level people in Madrid, if my body can respond, if I can play a set daily, if my body adapts to that level of competition and I feel that I am prepared, I will be able to take a step further. I will try to take one more step in Madrid, not in terms of results because this is determined by the competition and I have played very little, then in Rome a little more and in Paris whatever God wants.“

While Nadal is willing to give it his all at the French Open, he explained that the same couldn’t be said for Barcelona where he had to be realistic. After losing a close first set to De Minaur, the former world No. 1 knew that he couldn’t sustain his level for much longer.

„After everything I’ve been going through in recent months, now is not the time to look for heroics,“ Nadal added, pouring cold water on the hopes of a miraculous comeback story. „You have to be realistic and do things prudently and logically. The reality is that once the first set is lost, the match is over.“

Nadal has played just five official matches since getting injured at the 2023 Australian Open – three in January and two this week in Barcelona – as well as an exhibition against Carlos Alcaraz last month. And he knows that his body will no longer let him compete for hours after spending so much time on the sidelines.

„I am very clear about what I can and cannot do, sometimes I had to slow down a little, among other adjustments. I haven’t been able to serve at all in the last three months either, so it’s difficult to serve normally for a couple of hours, this hasn’t happened since Brisbane,“ he explained.

„Before arriving here I have only played some training sets and the Las Vegas match, I have not played anything else. I can’t afford to play a two to three hour match at a competitive level right now. Today I had some opportunities, some moments that could have gone in my favour, but I made mistakes with my forehand. I have failed them because I have competed very little, but I accept what I have and where I come from, I try to be positive at all times.“

Nadal is hoping to compete in the Madrid Open, which begins next week. But the 37-year-old believes that he has now played his final match in Barcelona, a tournament so significant in Nadal’s career that the centre court bears his name.

„The normal thing is that it was my last game at Godo, you all know how important this tournament has been for my career,“ the 12-time champion said. „I have really enjoyed playing here, I have lived very nice moments, I have managed to win 12 times, something unimaginable for me. I can only thank all the people of this club for the treatment received.



Source link