“I won here seven times and for me it’s very special always to play here in these tournaments. I can win Roland Garros losing here, and I can win Roland Garros winning here. I don’t think what’s going to happen here is going to have a big impact on what can happen in two weeks, but there’s one thing that is 100 per cent sure: I’m not thinking about Roland Garros when I’m here, I’m thinking only about Rome.”
Last year, Rafa lost to Thiem in Rome, before beating him in straight sets in the semis at the French Open. Can we expect a similar pattern in 2018, or does Thiem now pose a real threat to what had appeared to be another romp at Roland Garros for Rafa? Will a win in Madrid help make Thiem a winner in Paris?
Nadal’s 75-2 record at Roland Garros should be enough to offer an early answer to that question: Probably not.
- Carlos Moya not worried about Roland Garros plans after Rafael Nadal’s loss to Dominic Thiem | sport360.com
“I don’t think so, not for us at least,” Moya said when asked if this was a setback ahead of Nadal’s title defence in Paris.
“Maybe for the opponents they are going to realise that they can have a chance to beat him, we are aware of that. But we knew it was going to be very difficult to win all the tournaments on clay.
“We knew this could happen, it happened last year in Rome and then he played amazing tennis in the French Open. So I don’t think this is going to be a step back on his preparation for Paris.”
- Somehow Rafael Nadal Got Better On Clay | fivethirtyeight.com
Even at his best in those two years, he looked well behind Djokovic, who beat Nadal seven times in a row without losing a set, including three on clay.
But instead of crumbling, Nadal has climbed back and become more dominant on clay than ever before. He’s done it with more powerful strokes, a stronger serve and more volleys — and, most important, the confidence that seemed to escape him several years ago.
PHOTOS: Pre-tournament presser in Rome