"Nadal's experience and his tennis are enough to win again, as long as he has no discomfort"
MADRID, 18 May. (EUROPA PRESS) -
Former Spanish tennis player Álex Corretja bets on Carlos Alcaraz as one of the "top favorites on his own merits" to win the title at Roland Garros alongside Rafa Nadal if his chronic foot injury gives him a truce in Paris and Novak Djokovic on the rise , while he is clear that the one from El Palmar has more interest "for the new generations" of fans and that the one from Manacor "will play until they feel competitive".
"There is a very big unknown with Nadal's recovery, if his foot is fine and he recovers, I still think he will be one of the favorites. Djokovic's final sprint in Madrid and Rome has been fundamental to also place him among the favorites, and then, logically, there is Alcaraz, who on his own merits is going to be among the top favourites", analyzed Corretja, who will be one of the experts on Eurosport, the chain that will exclusively broadcast Roland Garros; in an interview with Europa Press.
Corretja, who placed Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Casper Ruud and Andrey Rublev "one step below" these names, stressed that the "strong point" of the current Mutua Madrid Open champion is "one hundred percent" his mentality.
"The first thing is that the raw material is spectacular. He has some blows that give him the self-confidence to believe that he can hurt his rivals. He has a lot of faith in himself, the variety in his blows has made him someone very uncomfortable for the rivals and also his conviction that he can be the best is leading him to be the best, I don't know when, but I trust that he will be number one", he explained.
"That's because of his way of thinking and because his potential gives him to believe that he can be the best and that's what disarms his opponents, he has so many weapons that he has them out of place. That makes him someone very difficult to win" , he added about the Murcian and his exponential growth in just a few months.
However, the former Spanish tennis player, who became number 2 in the world in 1999 and double finalist at Roland Garros in 1998 and 2001, believes that "you have to go step by step" with Alcaraz because the circuit is "very demanding, with matches very hard". "It is risky to say that he will be the dominator of the circuit. Although the others have not burst in with such surprising force at 19 years of age, they are still very tough rivals to win," he said in an attempt to reduce the euphoria.
In addition, he believes that Alcaraz, as Nadal already did, will get fans to watch tennis "because a Spaniard plays." "It is a modern version of the time we live in. The new generations identify much more with him than with Rafa, who is 35 years old. Although Nadal is our benchmark, for the new generations he is not so much. Alcaraz is going to hook a new generation that was further away from Rafa due to age", he warned.
"Rafa has spoiled us and every important tournament, beyond the other teammates, he is always there. He is the idol of all our lives, but for the new ones, Alcaraz will hook them much more. They see him with that calmer way of being, like the youth of today, and it makes him special, he is very good for tennis and Spanish sport", added the Barcelonan.
At Roland Garros, Rafa Nadal, who lifted his last title on clay in Paris in 2020, will fight this year to win his 14th trophy in his favorite tournament, with "physical limitations" as the main "problem".
"If he doesn't have pain, he will have options to win the title. The little rhythm that Rafa has compared to his rivals will be replaced with experience and the first week of the tournament. The draw will be important, but if he doesn't have discomfort there is no doubt that Rafa can get to Paris and be successful again," Corretja said.
"Someone who has 13 titles there, just with that and the state of form in which he was... His experience and his tennis are enough to win again, as long as he doesn't have discomfort", he pointed out about the chronic injury that the manacorí suffers in the foot, which forced him to retire lame in Rome.
For the 'master' of 1998, "this injury is peculiar". "Sometimes he doesn't allow him to play and other times he wins the title. He has to live with that and when it comes it's a very strong blow, especially now that the most important moment of the season has arrived for him," he acknowledged.
However, Corretja does value the "very good" season Nadal is having, winning the Australian Open and the Melbourne and Acapulco tournaments. And he believes he will play "until he feels competitive" and "with a chance to win big titles."
"The problem will be his physical limitations. If he sees that with them he cannot choose to be a 'Grand Slam' champion and give him the opportunity to be one anyway, he thinks about withdrawing. But he has already won a Grand Slam this year and everything that comes It will be a prize," he recalled.
Finally, the former Spanish tennis player assesses how the circuit and the competition at Roland Garros have changed in recent decades. "Before there were clearly specialist players on clay like the Spanish or the Argentines. That is the biggest change, especially in the men's draw because in the women's there have always been very consistent, aggressive players. With the exception of Nadal and a few others, who It would be difficult for me to find them, the others play with a much straighter and flatter style, not so specific on the surface," he said.