Defending champion Rafael Nadal returns to Rome in an unprecedented situation: after an extraordinary start of 2022 with the title in Melburne and a massive winning streak, an injury slowed his spring and now he is looking for his best form on the part of the season that historically he liked the most. Despite all the injuries he had already returned from, this time the 35-year-old feels like this season is unique for him.
“I think is a little bit different situation. For example, in 2020 I played here, only here, then in Roland Garros. Is true that I was not able to play much. At the same time, I was practicing. This time is completely different. I have been for one month and a half without being able to practice, so I know what’s going on. Normally when you start in the new season, you come back after an injury, but you have some period of time to prepare yourself. Then, of course, you need to recover the confidence, the level of your tennis competing. So it’s normal that I need some more time in terms of everything, in terms of movement, in terms of being more fitter, in terms of reading again the game. In general terms, have not been a negative week in Madrid, even if the tournament is probably the most difficult for me, for the altitude and all this stuff”.
Obviously, being in Rome to play a tournament where his name is written in the roll of honour 10 times adds to his confidence: “I am excited to be in Rome. It’s a place that I love so much. Amazing memories. I’ll try my best, as I do always. I hope to be ready to play a little bit better than last week. Let’s see.”
Despite being a record breaker and still in the fight to keep making history, Nadal does not feel that this is the drive that pushes him to continuing in his career despite the injuries.
“I am not playing anymore for things outside of my happiness and for things outside of my personal motivation,” he admitted. “I am happy doing what I am doing. I still feel myself competitive when I am healthy enough. Body issues, pains, you can manage that. The problem is when you start to feel that with all the things that’s going through your body, you can’t be competitive enough to fight for the things that really keep exciting you. That is the moment to probably make decisions”.
So how did he recover from another serious injury just in time to try and fight for another slam in Paris?
“When you are six weeks without touching a racquet and without having the chance to move your body… My body is like an old machine. To put this machine on again it already again takes some time. Is not the same when you have 19 than when you are almost 36, with all the issues that I went through in my tennis career. You need to build again the confidence on your body, on your movements, then you going to start feeling again comfortable with your tennis”.
For sure, playing in Rome will be helping him finding the confidence and the level he is wishing for to keep making tennis exciting for himself and all fans.