“I think it takes a combination of things—a good mentality, a passion for what to do, love of sport, a little bit of luck and finally, the constant desire to improve, to have that on court every day,” Nadal told Le Figaro in an interview published in French. “During the years, you gradually decline in some things, you have to keep adding [others] to stay competitive. This is for me the key to this longevity and this success—even more at Roland Garros, 10 times.”
“I have always worked with a lot of intensity. My uncle pushed me to work hard every day with intensity from a young age. When you have grown up with this, it is easier to keep it,” Nadal said.
- Nadal Looks To Fire Up From The Start | ATP World Tour
“I’m feeling good,” said Nadal, who had suffered from a right hip injury earlier in the year. “Of course, after a very tough start to the season with two injuries, I’ve managed to come back and play very well. I’ve played a lot of matches this season and have had good success. Every tournament is different, and here in Paris we’re trying to get in some solid practices so that I’m fit and ready for my first match. I want to be as competitive as I can be from the start.”
Alex Corteja: “Rafael Nadal is the closest thing to the perfect machine on clay. He is a tough opponent on all surfaces, but on clay – and on the Philippe Chatrier Court in particular – it is like playing a giant.
Physically, Rafa can reach so many balls. He moves opponents from side to side, can open up the court on both his forehand and backhand wings and changes down the line. He knows how to deal with the wind, which can blow hard in Paris, and accepts situations better than anyone.”
Rafa, Rafa, Rafa. Need we say more? It goes without saying Rafael Nadal is the overwhelming favorite to win an 11th French Open title, extending his own record. Heading into Roland Garros, he won four of five clay-court tune-up events. According to Ladbrokes, Nadal is a 2-5 favorite to win the French, meaning if you bet on him to win, you’re not going to make a whole lot of money.
- Say what? Friday’s best press conference moments | Roland Garros
After winning 50 consecutive sets on clay, Rafael Nadal is glad to have been pushed hard in Rome:
“… In Rome I had plenty of these moments. I came back after [losing] a set against Fognini. Then I played a very tough first set against Novak in the semifinals, and the final had a little bit of everything. But coming back, too, that’s situations that helps to keep going, to keep being confident, and to get used to play this difficult moments that the normal thing is you have these difficult moments in our sport.”
- Scouting Report: 10 Things To Watch At Roland Garros | ATP World Tour
Rafa In Form: Nadal, who turns 32 on 3 June, is 19-1 on clay this season with his 11th Monte-Carlo, 11th Barcelona and eighth Rome titles. He must win his 11th Roland Garros title to remain No. 1 in the ATP Rankings. Otherwise, Roger Federer will resume as World No. 1 on 11 June. From last year’s event on the terre battue until this year’s Rome quarter-finals, Nadal won 50 consecutive sets on clay, a record for most sets won in a row on a single surface.
- Debate: Is Nadal invincible? | Roland Garros
The man who lifts the Coupe des Mousquetaires on Sunday 11 June will not do so because it was inevitable, or predestined, or any other silly linguistic convenience. If that man is Nadal, his 11th victory will be astonishing precisely because he is not invincible, not because he is.
But even with Roger Federer sitting out this year’s tournament and Juan Martin del Potro an injury-filled question mark, there are players in the draw who have either done well at Roland Garros in the past, fared well against Nadal or have played well enough on clay this season to merit consideration as a challenger to the King of Clay.
- Rafael Nadal’s 15 most outrageous ever shots | Telegraph
- The Stuff of Dreams | Roland-Garros 2018
- Rafa challenges #TheDecima | Babolat