Spring, you know, is accompanied by the clay and with it, the golden staircase: Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome and Paris.
by Rafael Nadal.
Everything is the same, but everything is different.
It is strange for the 20 grand champion to turn his neck and see his goldsmith and uncle Toni sitting on the bench of another player, Félix Auger-Aliassime;
It is also strange for him to walk through the Monte-Carlo Country Club, on the shores of the Côte d'Azur, and that at noon the glasses or cutlery of the fans who have lunch while the tennis is not grinding, or that the masks, gels and above all silence dominate one of his favorite paradises, where this Wednesday (around 3.30 pm, Movistar) opens fire on Federico Delbonis in the first season of the tour that has brought him so many successes.
The best shot from Paula Badosa
Toni Nadal teams up with Félix Auger-Aliassime
The land arrives, Nadal bursts in and in these times of pandemic shocks occur.
Yesterday, the ATP communicated that Russian Daniil Medvedev, with whom he had trained on Sunday, tested positive for covid-19 and, therefore, should immediately withdraw from the tournament.
“Rafa passed a test on Monday, as did Moyà [Carlos, his coach] and Maymò [Rafael, his physio], so this doesn't affect him at all.
Let's trust that there are no scares and the tournament is played normally ”, they reassure from their team while the tennis player continues to get ready, sharpening the racket and facing the sweet spot of the season in an unusual situation: never before had Nadal played so shortly before landing on the clay.
This year, there are five games on the card, all of them in Australia.
It was almost two months, 56 days since he fell in the Melbourne quarterfinals against Greek Stefano Tsitsipas, on February 17.
Affected by a problem in the lower back since then, the Mallorcan opted for the most conservative way to recover and decided to eliminate Rotterdam, Acapulco and Miami from his calendar, as well as an option considered at the last minute in Dubai.
The objective, there are no secrets, is meridian.
Nadal spots land, and focuses on Roland Garros.
There, in a month and a half if things do not go wrong, he could elevate what would be his 21st Grand Slam title and, consequently, distance himself from Roger Federer at the top of history.
“I'm fine, my body is in good shape.
Honestly, I have confidence ”, he conceded a few days ago.
“It is true that I have not played much, but at the same time, it is also true that in the past I have been successful without having played much.
My mentality is always the same.
I try to be prepared and go day by day.
I think I have done the right job to be ready ”, valued the Spaniard, who has only lost five games in the Principality (71-5) and aspires to his twelfth trophy in the tournament.
All-star practice 😍 @ RafaelNadal |
- ATP Tour (@atptour) April 12, 2021
Nadal will tackle the challenge without prior competitive filming, a circumstance that is not really new for him nor does it mean a brake: due to an injury to the iliac psoas of the right thigh, in 2018 he attended with only seven games in the legs (five in Australia and two in the Davis Cup) and won the prize, and has long shown that, far from diminishing his performance, the breaks have beneficial effects for a 34-year-old champion who must monitor his preparation to the millimeter and intervene now the letter.
For example, the last assault on Roland Garros, came after a forced break of seven months by the pandemic, having only greased with three games in Rome.
“This is one of my favorite tournaments.
I miss the crowd, but I'm happy that we can still play.
Being here is always good news for me, ”says the Manacor man, who has already recovered from his back and who has a good grip on the record.
In front of its 11 crowns, the group behind it (Thomas Muster, Björn Borg and Guillermo Vilas) has three.
Djokovic, who also reappears this Wednesday (around 1:00 p.m., Movistar) against the threatening Yannik Sinner, has two.
The presence of number one will be another of the great incentives.
After competing in Melbourne, he also opted to dose himself to the max.
"I haven't done any special preparation," said Nole, 33.
"I feel good physically, and mentally I missed competing," adds the current leader of the circuit and a resident of Monte Carlo.
Both are the references of a meeting that does not have one of the great specialists on land, the Austrian Dominic Thiem, and which Roger Federer does not attend either.
Last year, the clay tour, canceled from start to finish, was a blank page;
now, Nadal rubs his hands with the brick dust.
DAVIDOVICH GRAVES HIS FIRST 'TOP-10'
The day of this Tuesday offered the premiere of Toni Nadal on the bench of Félix Auger-Aliassime, after last week the link between the two was confirmed.
But the result was not as desired, as the 20-year-old Canadian fell 7-6 (3) 6-1 against Cristian Garín.
Catalan Albert Ramos, finalist in 2017 and defeated by Italian Yannik Sinner, 6-3, 6-4, also said goodbye.
Roberto Bautista did manage to progress, firm against Taylor Fritz (6-2 and 7-5), and the bell of the day was starred by the Malaga-born Alejandro Davidovich, who lowered Matteo Berrettini, eight in the world and the first
he beat (7-5 and 6-3).
The 21-year-old Spaniard, who had not been able to compete from Melbourne due to an abdominal injury, continues to grow and will face the winner of the duel between Lucas Pouille or Alexei Popyrin in the round of 16.
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