Less than a month before Roland-Garros, will Nadal return?

(Madrid) “My path with racket in hand is not over”: on the evening of his farewell to Madrid, Rafael Nadal gave a glimpse of a reinvigorated flame, far removed from the speech tinged with fatalism that he gave a week earlier. Promising for Roland-Garros?

“It was an emotional, unforgettable day, but my career continues. I have personal goals in the coming weeks and I want to explore if I have a chance of achieving them,” insists the Spaniard with 22 Grand Slam titles.

If he held back his tears on Tuesday evening, it was because his “path with racket in hand is not over,” Nadal repeats. “Maybe now is not the time to let out all the emotions I have inside. I don’t want to let go of all this adrenaline yet. »

“My body held on”

This is the condition sine qua non to nourish hope, because when his body leaves him alone, he generally knows what to do, racket in hand.

Playing four matches in six days and winning three in a row, accumulating eight hours of play, playing two weeks in a row on the circuit (with Barcelona): all of this, Nadal has not had the opportunity since the summer of 2022 .

“Even if today (Tuesday) there was a little muscle fatigue and a few small things, nothing serious, my body withstood several hours of competition at a high level, that’s the most important thing for me,” recalls -he after his defeat in the round of 16 against the Czech Jiri Lehecka (7-5, 6-4).

“I have to regain confidence in my body,” he explained three days earlier, on the day of his victory against world No.11 Alex de Minaur – his first against a player from the top 20 for almost a year and a half. I have to be convinced that my physique will respond. »

“Consolidate” in Rome

If Nadal describes Madrid as an “incredibly positive week”, even better than expected, we still need to confirm in Rome next week.

From his first set played against Lehecka, “in my opinion it is my best since I returned to competition,” he believes. That’s what I’m looking for,” in terms of “footwork, ability to spin the ball, speed and control.”

“I arrived here with doubts, I leave with less. And with significant energy. I have taken steps forward, that is for sure, afterwards, we will see if I am capable of consolidating this progress,” he projects.

Will he play Roland-Garros?

It remains a question, less than a month before the first day of the Parisian Grand Slam, May 26.

“I will tell you after Rome,” Nadal repeated Tuesday evening. His week in Madrid is encouraging, certainly, but “I’m not sure of anything, I don’t know what could happen”, he observes, scalded by the physical struggles which have continued to put obstacles in his way. wheels for two years.

At least the facts of the problem are clear: “Rafa” will only play in Paris if he feels “sufficiently ready”.

“If I have the hope of having the means to play a few days in a row, I will go. If I know that my body is not going to last the whole tournament, I will not go,” says the Mallorcan left-hander.

The Parisian land of his dizzying fourteen triumphs is too dear to his heart for him to risk bitter farewells.

“If I can’t dream, even a little bit, about what could happen, it doesn’t make sense. I prefer to keep all the extraordinary memories I have there, he summarizes. After everything I’ve been through there, it makes sense. »

The Olympic dream

With the Olympic Games in Paris this summer, 2024 offers an exceptional double dose of Roland-Garros.

Will we see Nadal there? In what format? Doubles with Carlos Alcaraz, the new phenomenon of Spanish tennis?

In any case, Nadal has it in the back of his mind: when a week ago, he expressed doubts about his participation in the Parisian lifting of the Grand Slam, he immediately mentioned the prospect of the Olympics and its “different formats”.

“If all goes well, we will play doubles at the Olympics. But until then there are many weeks left,” Alcaraz said after qualifying for the quarter-finals in Madrid.

Nadal is already a double Olympic champion: in singles in 2008, in doubles in 2016.

reference: www.lapresse.ca

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