13-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal has reached Roland Garros- the place which he virtually owns. He is chasing a record 14th Roland Garros title and a historic 22nd major title but to everyone’s surprise, Nadal is not the overwhelming favorite to win the French Open this time.
Nadal started the season on a high by winning 3 consecutive titles including the Australian Open and was well on course to enter the clay season undefeated but an untimely hairline rib fracture ruled him out for a month. He returned to Madrid and managed to reach the quarterfinal but then once again suffered a foot injury at the Rome Masters.
In the pre-tournament press conference, Nadal spoke about his health and said that his foot condition is chronic so there is nothing to recover from. He added that his foot is better and that what happened in Rome mostly happens in his practice sessions.
“Nothing to recover in my case (smile). But I feel better with my foot, that’s why I’m here. I was very open after the match in Rome. What happened in Rome often happens at practice sessions,” he said.
He further commented that the pain is always there but it’s just about the intensity of it. “I mean, the pain is there always, no? It’s not about gonna disappear now. It’s about if the pain is high and strong enough to allow me to play with real chances or not. I live every day with that, so is nothing new for me and is not a big surprise,” he said.
‘Mentally, it doesn’t affect me’: Rafael Nadal on the French Open draw
Nadal was been handed a very tough draw and is projected to meet his arch-nemesis, Novak Djokovic, in the quarterfinals. He is then drawn to face Spanish teen sensation Carlos Alcaraz in the semifinals if he wins. A lot was talked about the bias of the draw but Nadal dismissed all saying that this is expected at a grand slam.
“The draw? Mentally, it doesn’t affect me. Of course, you see all those good players. We’re in a Grand Slam, you don’t know what can happen. There is a lot to do before the match you’re thinking about,” he said.
He then said that he isn’t the favorite to win French Open this year and recalled the times when he used to be the favorite. “Am I the favorite? No, not at all. I am one of the candidates here. But when I was the favorite, I wasn’t much into it. Today Friday, I’m not the favorite. But you know what can happen,” he said.