It is almost two in the morning and Rafael Nadal is speaking before a hundred journalists. He wears a cap, the same clothes with which he has competed and is still moved by the love received from the Chatrier stands, which this Tuesday has played and has positioned himself in a “special” evening against Novak Djokovic. Of “Shit-them, Shit-them, Shit-them!” that he has dedicated to Alcaraz in the middle of the afternoon to the “Ra-fa, Ra-fa, Ra-fa!” that seals a skin-deep night session.
“The stands have been incredible since the beginning of the tournament. I know that I will not be here many more times, so the feeling of playing this tournament and with this support is very difficult to describe, ”thanks the tennis player and also a miracle worker, because Nadal is beyond logic. He succeeded in Melbourne – after more than half a year without competing – and, who knows, on Sunday at the latest, maybe he can repeat the feat in Paris.
As a link, the happy left foot and the Müller-Weiss syndrome. That injury that has no cure and is difficult to remedy. He does not want to delve into the subject and summons the resolution of the tournament to specify, but advances: “If I am not able to find a solution or some improvement, everything becomes much more complicated. I’m going to keep fighting, but at the moment we don’t have it”.
Nadal continues: “We will talk after the tournament and you will understand a little of everything. But for now, let’s leave it all. I don’t know what can happen after here. I think I can compete here and then we’ll see how everything turns out. Right now is not the time to explain, but he has it. When I’m done I’ll explain it to you. From there, we will be focused on these semi-finals”.
The 21-time major champion says the last three months have been tough and his team has helped him carry on. To the crack in the rib that separated him from the competition for a month and a half –suffered in March, in the semifinals of Indian Wells against Alcaraz– he later added the last disgust for his foot. It happened in Rome, just 10 days before the start of Roland Garros. “I’m confident that it won’t bother me here,” he said upon landing in the Bois de Boulogne.
“I have not won anything”
And, for now, not only does he endure but his tennis is resized when the moment of truth has arrived. “I haven’t won anything,” she points out. “This was a quarter-final, but I’ve earned the chance to come back in two days in a tournament that means a lot to me. It’s a big night, but I know from experience that emotions rise and fall fast. The objective is to be focused on the next game”, she adds while stating:“ It has been the best of the last four months. It’s a bit surprising to me. On the day that I needed it most, I managed to achieve a level that I thought I didn’t have”.
Nadal analyzes and states that the second set should not have escaped him, and that if he has won it is because he has dominated more and has known how to recover his aggressiveness after the step back. He also comments that this time, together with the landing in 2015, a lot of doubts and anguish at that time, it has been the one that has come to Paris the fairest. In more precarious conditions. And that, he underlines, gives him something that “goes far beyond” what may happen from now on; “a very important internal energy”.
DJOKOVIC: “RAFA HAS DEMONSTRATED WHY HE IS A GREAT CHAMPION”
BC | Paris
As he left the court, Djokovic made his way to the conference room, where he briefly analyzed what had happened and praised Nadal’s play.
“I congratulate him, he was better in the important moments. It started very well and I didn’t, 6-2 and 3-0, double break; afterwards, I was gaining momentum and I managed to win the second set, and I thought: ‘okay, I’m back’. But he played another fantastic two or three games at the start of the third; there he was able to take his tennis to another level ”, Nole reconstructed.
“I had my opportunities. I served to win the fourth and there were a couple of points that could have taken me to a fifth. There the game could have been for anyone. But once again, Rafa showed why he is a great champion, staying there, mentally tough and finishing the match like he did. Congratulations to him and his team. Surely he deserved it,” he said goodbye.