Condescending, Paris behaves well and, suddenly, as if it were written, the afternoon clears and the sky gradually clears up to welcome the tennis player who has given the Chatrier so many good afternoon.
After several days of dogs, without sun, without light or a drop of good weather to take to the body, he moves away the clouds of the Bois de Boulogne and clears the way for
, who wanted a meteorological respite and finds it at the right time and the right place: step on the sand, pull the job and resolve his debut in this anomalous autumn edition with a 6-4, 6-4 and 6-2 against the fierce Egor Gerasimov.
Those who attend the soul falls to their feet, that is why this is not Roland Garros, not the real one of course, but rather a substitute because the tournament in these circumstances loses a good quota of essence.
In any case, “it is what it touches, it is what there is”, Nadal repeats himself since he set foot in the City of Light last week, ready to undertake the challenge of hunting Roger Federer and hanging another laurel more in Paris, 12 + 1, than not 13. Him and superstition.
So far, the 19 grand champion has already taken the first step by reducing a Belarusian who fights like he was on the hard court in Bercy, then six remain.
Although the weather is good, the Mallorcan ends up with a reddish nose and ears, because Paris is good, but not naive, and it spreads the performance with the cool.
Although Gerasimov, a 1.96 stalk, has won only six games on clay and confines his tennis to cement, he does not turn his face at any time and does not get down on rallies.
Nadal starts up, applies himself, gradually warms up and insists, erre que erre, because the happy Wilson balls that are so much talked about and written about, interspersed with the humidity, weigh his own and force the Manacor to chew each point.
This is what there is, this is what it touches.
To win this edition of Roland Garros, you will surely have to row more than usual.
The temperature and the physiognomy of the new balls slow down the game and it becomes more leaden.
Little trace of the devastating right that draws effects here and there, and that approaches the rival with its fangs at shoulder height.
This year's debut uncovers a new reality: flatter, less definitive shots and much more patience.
Nadal, of course, finds it difficult to overflow with the
and compensates by insisting and rethinking the points one, two or three times.
The whip works fine, but the Wilson whips carry cotton.
It is contemplated by the rare 200 or 300 people who watch from the stands.
Open ceiling, hardly any noise, none of the fuss and merriment characteristic of the hot central French.
An aseptic development (2h 05m) that the Spaniard is solving based on good work and a solid proposal: the ball does not run as before, but he has done his part and moves well, fresh in his legs and correct in his movements.
The foundations are not lacking, despite the fact that he would never have arrived in a situation similar to his fetish tournament.
Certainly, Nadal, cited in the second season with another fast puncher, the American Mackenzie McDonald, drops the first stinger in the fifth game of the first set, and another in the fourth of the second.
2-0 and the classic abysmal gap.
However, Gerasimov does not make it easy for him and wants to leave with the satisfaction of his duty accomplished.
His fate is clear, but he has arrests to take away his service at least once, although he receives a reply and the winner puts the tie to a victory, the first accompanied by artificial light, which at this point and in these bizarre circumstances demanded more efficiency that you shine.
Not a bad starting point.
"I can't afford to play passive"
Satisfied, but demanding himself as always, Nadal told reporters that the plan went more or less as he and his team sensed.
“I need to be with all the senses awake to play this tournament. It is not a Roland Garros like the others I have played, but with completely different conditions, with which, I have to take steps in a direction that helps me. I think I played a correct game, without looking for great things, but without playing badly. It was a logical and positive first game. There is only one way to look at this tournament, step by step and training by training, day by day ”, he introduced.
“We never play a clay court tournament on these conditions. Today, when it was not windy, it was ten or eleven degrees ... The other day [at the press conference prior to the event] I did not complain, but I exposed a situation. It is played in the same facilities, but it is completely different from the previous ones ”, he insisted; “You have to be prepared to accept all the conditions; I simply said that these conditions do not favor me, but this does not take away an iota of enthusiasm, motivation or commitment when going to the track every day ”.
Regarding the incidence of his right, he pointed out: “If I don't play deep, in the end it's my mistake. The balls are what they are, and I am the one who has to adapt. Another thing is that if it is not a very lively ball in itself and we also add cold and humidity, it makes it much more difficult to generate effects. But at no time am I going to make excuses with the balls, whether I do things better or worse ”.
And he settled: “With these conditions, the only thing I cannot afford is to play in a passive way; I need all the shots to carry an intention and have a high intensity, because as soon as the ball goes down it stops doing damage ”.