Rafael Nadal speaks clearly, after taking a last drink of water and answering the question that closes a press conference that has passed under a gloomy tone. If he had to choose between winning his fourteenth Roland Garros tomorrow, his twenty-second grand, or rubbing the lamp and having the genie grant him a wish in the form of a new foot, what would he get?
“I prefer to lose the final, because a new foot would allow me to be happier in my day to day life. My speech and my way of seeing life have not changed. Winning fills you with momentary adrenaline, but life is much more important than any title. I have a life ahead of me and I must think about tomorrow. I have always done my best to generate as many options as possible, whatever my physical condition, but there is a whole life ahead of me and in the future I would love to be able to go and play with my friends, in a amateur, and that today is a bit of a mystery. Without a doubt, my happiness is ahead of any title and without a doubt that a new foot, not having the pain that I have almost daily, would change my life”, answers the man from Manacor.
It’s his birthday and he finds himself back in front of history. However, she doesn’t like it at all as she has finished the afternoon. “I’m so sorry for him [Zverev]”, he introduces. “But it hasn’t been a question of the track. We can’t create a story out of that. It was an accident, sometimes they happen and on all surfaces. But the track was not bad. The problem is when the thickest part of the back accumulates, because then it is more slippery”, she explains; “But it was bad luck, an unlucky moment.”
“It has been hard, an up and down. And then there was a criminal point that gave me the break [en el 2-1 del segundo set], but that later he has taken many games from me, ”he explains, while replying to the journalist who slips him that he has suffered a downturn. “I haven’t had a slump; in fact, I’ve had a fantastic start. Obviously, I like to play more during the day and in the end I did notice the fatigue, but not at the beginning”, continues Nadal, who has equaled the Serbian Novak Djokovic as the tennis player with the most appearances in grand finals (10) reached thirty and precise that all the sacrifices he has been making make sense to be where he is now.
“I would love to play with my friends in an ‘amateur’ way, but that is unknown”
These are difficult days for the Balearic, who is pursuing the umpteenth dream and at the same time trying to minimize the pain in his foot. There are many disappointments in recent times, but the passion is still inside.
“I have nothing to prove to anyone, not even myself. Everything is based on you enjoying what you are doing. I love competing in these events, feeling the adrenaline of playing in the big stadiums and I still have fun playing tennis. That’s why I keep playing and if I’m good enough to do it, I’ll keep doing it. I feel happy and proud to give myself a new opportunity to win the title here”, he indicates. He also points out that landing in this final has been easier than doing it five months ago in Australia. “In this tournament I have achieved my best results and here you know that if you manage to get through the first rounds and advance, you can have more options,” he says.
The ball, “big”
However, the duel with Zverev was a roller coaster, summed up in the eight breaks in the second set. “It had been a long time since he played in such slow conditions here. The humidity was extreme, the ball was big and it was very difficult to spin, so I had to use a completely different style. I couldn’t do as much damage as I would have liked with my shots, he started playing at a great level and Zverev probably has the best backhand on the circuit”, continues the tennis player, number four in the world.
Nadal, like everyone else, found the final scene very unpleasant and admits that it is not easy for him to speak. “I hope it’s not too bad. Hopefully nothing is broken and it’s the least when you sprain an ankle, ”he says; “It was going to be a very tough match, but he was playing amazingly, fighting for his first big one. He is a good colleague on the circuit. I am very happy to be in the final, but if you are human you can only regret what has happened to him.
In the case of having won the tournament, Zverev would have climbed to the top of the circuit. However, the semifinal pulse has concluded in the worst possible way. However, Nadal is once again one step away from reaching the top in Paris and enlarging his history. “After everything we have been going through in recent times, it is incredible, a very important success. I knew he was the underdog coming here, but I made it clear that things in sport change quickly, and luckily they have,” he concludes before heading back to his hotel.