When the embers of Carlos Alcaraz’s victory victory at the Mutua Madrid Open have not yet been extinguished, absent from the Foro Italico the new phenomenon due to physical problems, the spotlights in Rome point to Rafael Nadal. To the master and lord of the tournament. The tennis player with the most wins (68) and the most titles (10) in the dry Italian land where the heat presses these days as if it were Manacor. The Balearic debuts this Wednesday (second shift of the Central, around 12:30 on Movistar Deportes) against John Isner.
The American giant (2.08 meters), a tennis player who does not give rhythm and who yesterday defeated the Argentine Francisco Cerúndolo 6-4 and 6-3, will be another stop on Nadal’s path to recover the excellent start to the year, with titles at the ATP 250 in Melbourne, the Australian Open and Acapulco and the Indian Wells finalwho lost to Taylor Fritz after suffering a rib injury in the semifinal against Alcaraz that left him in the dry dock until Madrid, where he gave up against the Murcian in quarters.
START OF COURSE
“I’m not in the form I was at the beginning of the year because I haven’t touched a racket for six weeks,” recalled the Spaniard. “My body is like an old machine, to re-oil it takes time. It is not the same when you are 19 years old as when you are 36 (He will fulfill them on June 3 in full Roland Garros). I need to trust my body again, to feel comfortable. I need some time”, warned Rafa before the media in the pre-tournament. If he does not reach the quarterfinals, he will lose the number four ranking, which will go to Stefanos Tsitsipas. But falling before that round would also mean arriving at Roland Garros with open questions, since the 22nd, where he has set his main objective after Novak Djokovic won the title last year.
“In general terms, Madrid was not a negative week (he beat Mimoir Kecmanovic and David Goffin), although the tournament is the most difficult for me due to the altitude”, explained the champion of 21 majors, who in Rome, at sea level, is more comfortable. The veteran Isner (37 years old and 27th in the ranking), a server, is not conducive to rallying to pick up the rhythm that the champion is looking for, but Nadal dominates the head-to-head by 7-1 (defeat in the 2017 Laver Cup).
The draw wanted both Nadal and Djokovic to be paired on the same side of the draw, so they should meet in the semifinals.
“I have gone through a complicated period of time again,” Nadal explained about the break he had to take due to the injury and which led him to qualify as a ‘preseason’ his time at the Caja Mágica, where he arrived “justito”.
“It hasn’t been easy, but I’m trying to give myself the opportunity to play well in Rome and of course to be ready for Roland Garros. Now, I don’t play for anything other than my happiness. At my age, I’ve had probably the best start to the season of my career. It wouldn’t be fair to complain.” says Nadal, who hopes to find in the Foro Italico the oil that will leave the machine ready for Paris.