Work, improve… And hope. This is the credo of Rafael Nadal, who appeared before the press this Friday afternoon to deliver his feelings and talk about his strange feelings before Roland-Garros. The man with 13 titles on the Philippe-Chatrier court has perhaps never been less of a favorite than this year.
Torn by his irreversible foot injury which resurfaced in the middle of the Rome tournament and spoiled a land preparation already very disturbed by his rib injury in Indian Wells. "I suffered for a few days but I feel better and that's why I'm here, slips the world No. 5, whose approach we watch to guess any discomfort. Everyone knows what's going on, I was clear on the subject. It's something I live with on a daily basis, it's no surprise. If I didn't think it could be okay, I wouldn't be here. »
The Spaniard is in a rather playful mood. As if he were a little detached from this situation which escapes him anyway. Or simply fatalistic. “No, I am not the favorite because the recent results say so, blows the Mallorcan. But frankly, this status has never worried me. Even when I was, I didn't think of myself as that. I was one of the candidates. There, it is Friday and I am not favorite at all. But we don't know what can happen. I'm humble enough to focus on my first match (against Australian Thompson). The draw is difficult (potentially with Djokovic in the quarter-finals and Alcaraz or Zverev in the semi-finals) but we are in a Grand Slam. And a lot can happen before you get to the match you think…”
"I have my own expectations, I don't play to demonstrate anything"
In his heart of hearts, the left-hander of Manacor dreams of a “Paris” effect. "In sport things can change quickly, all I have to do is try to be ready," he continues. I just have to believe in my chances, in my daily work and stay positive. Having a story here doesn't help you win games early in the tournament, but if you can put yourself in a good position, what you've done helps you and you start to feel good, you find the right distance, your shots come out better. I spent so many hours on this court. It has been good and it can come back good. »
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Whatever happens, the former ATP No. 1 said he already has his tickets for the Champions League final at the Stade de France between Real Madrid and Liverpool on May 28. “There is no point in speculating, you have to take things as they come and fight to the end, he repeats. I have no pressure from the fans, the press... I have my own expectations, I don't play to demonstrate anything. I won in Australia, which seemed impossible, here is another opportunity, nothing more. It is not an obligation as it may have been in the past. This is another opportunity to win Roland-Garros. »