Rafael Nadal: “Important thing is go on court, try your best every day, and try to improve a little bit in every practice day and every match day” - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal: “Important thing is go on court, try your best every day, and try to improve a little bit in every practice day and every match day”

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TENNIS 2014 ROLAND GARROS – 26th of May 2014. R. Nadal d. R. Ginepri 6-0, 6-3, 6-0. An interview with Rafael Nadal

Q. How does it feel to get the first one over with, Rafa?

RAFAEL NADAL: Good. I think I played after the first game that was not good, I played a solid first set. I start first six games of the second I didn’t play well, and he had a terrible game with the 3 All, a lot of mistakes. After that I think I started to play a little bit better again.

So in the third I finished the match playing not that good, so it was a solid start, happy for that.

 

Q. Last year the first couple of rounds for you were a bit tricky. Are you feeling kind of relieved or confident this time your first round was not like…

RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. Doesn’t matter, no? In the end it’s day by day not, it’s difficult to compare years, difficult to compare opponents.

Important thing is go on court, try your best every day, and try to improve a little bit in every practice day and every match day, and that’s what they did a lot of times during this tournament. That’s why I had that success, and I gonna try to do it this year.

I think I started a little bit better than last year, but still last year I arrived with a lot of victories on my shoulders, this year with a little bit less.

We’ll see. Important thing is that I am in second round. I won the first one. I have two days for practice, to keep doing the right things and to arrive on the second round hopefully ready to play well.

 

Q. This is not strictly related to Roland Garros, but how would you describe your relationship with your racquet?

RAFAEL NADAL: I know my racquet since a long time (smiling). No, that’s the best thing that I can say about my racquet is for some reason I am playing with this one.

It’s because I feel the racquet give me what I need for my game and is long, long time ago that I am playing with Babolat, since the age of 10 or 11, I don’t remember. Always Babolat did the best possible for me, trying to help me in what I really need.

I think is great to be part of a great company of Babolat and a great company in the world of tennis. I have a great relationship with them, and that makes the things a little bit easier.

 

Q. Some people were a bit surprised that you were scheduled on Suzanne Lenglen today. I was wondering if it made any difference to you. Were you expecting to play on Chatrier, or you didn’t really care?

RAFAEL NADAL: Doesn’t really matter a lot. Always playing Roland Garros is a pleasure for me, is a really honor, and is a special feeling. So all the memories at this place give me are unforgettable.

And doesn’t matter if it’s Chatrier or Lenglen or another court, be around here in Roland Garros always gonna be great. And I started in Lenglen this year, is a great court.

I am not sure, but probably next one I gonna play in Chatrier. That’s it.

 

Q. Can you tell us the whole process in Madrid, in Rome? Your confidence came back. You’re more competitive. Is it because you played quite a lot?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, Madrid is a Masters 1000, and I didn’t play that much until the final. I lost no set. I think I never played any long match until the final, so this is a tournament during which I didn’t spend that much time on the court.

But after Madrid and mostly after the two first rounds in Rome, which were very difficult with very difficult conditions, with a lot of wind, very cold, I think I started being what I used to be in the past and playing the way I used to play in the past.

My game was back, much better than during my first tournaments on clay. Had it been possible, had I been in a position to use my shots in Madrid or in Rome or in Barcelona, the process would have been far less complex for me.

And maybe I would come here with slightly more confidence. But I think the beginning of the season on clay was positive.

And with regards to my feelings here with regards to what other people tell me when they see me, watching, I think I’m fit, but you want to come to Paris having played well in the other tournaments.

 

Q. Coming back to Madrid, you said that Berdych was hitting his balls very high and that you had difficulties returning and you also complained about the sun, the lack of sun, about the cold.

RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, it’s true. The sun, either you have too much of it or not enough of it. But when it’s very hot and there is not much wind, the court is much faster. That helps me quite a lot.

I’m not trying to find any excuses. That’s tennis. We want to talk about tennis. We are here because we love tennis. And when the ball does not go as far as I want it to go, I’m the only one to blame. Maybe it’s because at one stage I was not running fast enough or maybe I was not strong enough on my legs. Had I run faster, I would have had more time to position myself, to position my arm, and return better.

Of course I have ups and downs, just like any player, and we all have in this sport. But I also managed to play very good games in Rome. The matches were very difficult, but the conditions were nightmarish, really. It was very difficult to play in these conditions.

But after that, I think I played very well when I played Murray. There was less wind. The weather was slightly warmer. Against Dimitrov it was at night with wind. Not as cold as during my match against Simon, but I managed to return deeper. I was calmer. I could position myself much better on the court.

And when the ball arrived, I could return it not taking too many risks. I did that and I felt I could not attack, I managed to play safely and create some difficulties for my opponent.

It’s always very difficult to win against him, but I think I played well. Today it’s true that the court was very heavy. The balls were very heavy, very wet.

I had a question, why don’t they dry the court before we start playing? The court is soaked with water. Why don’t they do anything?

Well, anyway, there are moments when I played better today. Others when my let game was not all that good, when I couldn’t run as much as I should have. But that’s the way it is.

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World No.32 Davidovich Fokina Replaces Long-Time Coach With Verdasco

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Fernando Verdasco was spotted earlier this week briefly watching Ons Jabeur play at the French Open but his focus this year is on another player.

The former top 10 player has landed a new coaching job after being hired by compatriot Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Somebody who he once played a Tour-level doubles match alongside back in 2020. Fokina has opted to stop working with Jorge Aguirre, who has been his mentor since he was a child.

The change comes after what has been a mixed start to the season for Fokina who has only managed to win back-to-back matches in two out of 11 tournaments played before the start of Roland Garros. His sole win over a top 20 player occurred at the start of 2024 when he beat Hubert Hurkacz at the United Cup.  

“I will be very brief. I have left it with Jorge (Aguirre) and I start with Verdasco, with whom I have had a good relationship for years. He has not officially retired, but I knew that he was training other players and it was time,” Fokina told reporters after beating Valentin Vacherot in the first round of the French Open.
“It was time to close a stage and start a new one. With his experience, Verdasco can help me a lot to face the games, to assume that pressure and tension of the competition.”

Verdasco has won seven ATP titles during his career and reached the semi-finals of the 2009 Australian Open. At this year’s Madrid Open, he briefly helped Jabeur whose main coach Issam Jellali was unable to attend the tournament. 

Fokina will next play Casper Ruud in Roland Garros.

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Roland Garros 2024: Casper Ruud Explains Geneva Decision, Martin Etcheverry Talks Roland Garros And Djokovic Influence

Two-time finalist Casper Ruud is into the second round with a straight sets win over Felipe Meligeni Alves.

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Casper Ruud has explained the decision behind playing in Geneva last week after he defeated Felipe Meligeni Alves 6-3 6-4 6-3.

The world number seven is into the second round after a straight sets win over the Brazilian qualifier.

Ruud has reached the final the past two occasions here having lost to Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in those respective finals.

Now the Norwegian is targeting more success in Paris this year and spoke about his opening round performance after the match, “Yeah, I was honestly very happy. I think it was a good start,” Ruud stated in his press conference.

“I think Felipe is a dangerous player, and obviously I didn’t know him so well. So not easy to know what’s going to come out of his racquet. I think he was firing pretty good serves and forehands.

“Overall, I think it was a pretty high-quality match and happy to be through in straight sets. That’s just what I was kind of hoping and looking for. Yeah, I’m very happy to be through.”

Given Ruud’s history at Roland Garros, there would be no reason to suggest that the Norwegian would need to play his way into form.

However that’s exactly what he did in Geneva the week before Roland Garros as he won the title in Switzerland.

After his opening round match Ruud was asked about why he always plays in Geneva instead of practicing on-site in Paris, “No, I decide based on the fact that I enter the tournament, and with the purpose of going. But of course, if you do super well in Madrid and Rome and you play, let’s say, 10 matches or more within those two weeks or the two tournaments, maybe, depending on how your body feels, it’s kind of easier to skip it,” Ruud explained.

“But that wasn’t the case for me in Madrid and Rome. I played only four matches there. I lost early in Rome. If I didn’t play Geneva I would have had 17 or 18 days since I lost in Rome until starting in Roland Garros, which in my eyes, my feeling, is just a bit too much. For some players, they don’t think it’s too much. They don’t have a problem with it.

“But for me I like going into tournament kind of mode and feeling in the zone when you’re playing an official match. That’s why I like playing. It gives me kind of confidence and match feeling going into a Grand Slam, which is the Grand Slam that I personally feel like I have the most chances to do well in.”

Ruud will aim to continue his good run of form when he takes on Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the second round.

Martin Etcheverry Speaks On Roland Garros And Djokovic Influence

Finally Tomas Martin Etcheverry defeated Arthur Cazaux in four sets to seal his place in the second round.

The Argentinian is a big Novak Djokovic fan and after the match spoke about his love for Roland Garros and has tipped Djokovic to win this year’s tournament, “I think it’s my favorite tournament since I was a child, and I always want to play here,” Martin Etcheverry explained.

“This is a moment of the year that I want to be here and try to play my best tennis because I want to get a good result here.

“Yeah, is he my idol, and he is the No. 1 of the world. I don’t know, like six years right now. Yeah, I always try to watch him, trying to improve the game. I always trying to saw him. Yeah, I think he’s going to be No. 1 a lot of time. I don’t know if they have a good year this year, but I think it’s Novak Djokovic. Maybe he can win this tournament.”

Martin Etcheverry will play another Frenchman in the form of Arthur Rinderknech in the second round with Ruud being the potential third round opponent.

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Grand Slam Quarter-Finalist Van De Zandschulp Pondering Retirement After French Open Exit

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image via https://x.com/Boticvdz/

Botic van de Zandschulp has revealed he is losing his passion for tennis and is considering retiring from the sport following his exit from the French Open on Monday.

The 29-year-old was knocked out of the tournament in straight sets by Fabio Fognini, who eased his way to a 6-1, 6-1, 7-5, victory. It is the second Grand Slam in a row where he has fallen at the first hurdle with the 2022 Wimbledon championships being the last major event where he won back-to-back matches.   

“I don’t look forward to competitions at all anymore,” Zandschulp told Dutch media.
“I have been asking myself more and more lately whether I want to continue.
“You have to do work that you enjoy. Everyone has a bad day every now and then. But if there are too many, then you have to ask yourself whether you want to continue.” 

Zandschulp has been the top-ranked player in his country with his most notable achievement being a run to the quarter-finals of the 2021 US Open. The former world No.22 is a two-time runner-up at the Munich Open but is yet to win an ATP Tour title. He has registered a total of six wins over top 10 players, including Casper Ruud and Andrey Rublev. 

However, recent difficulties on the Tour have left the Dutchman questioning if he wants to continue playing.  

“I like the training. Those are great days. But when I get up in the morning, I no longer look forward to the matches at all.” He commented.

Zandschulp’s remarks could be a reaction to his frustrating loss to Fognini. However, he confirmed that he has been considering retiring for a long time. 

“It was the worst match I have played in my life,” he said. 
“Of course, it is now fresh after the match. That plays a role in my mind, but the thoughts of quitting have been there for a long time. It is not an easy life as a tennis player. You really live your life, play thirty weeks a year and travel from pillar to post.
“If you don’t play, someone else will pass you by (in the rankings). That’s why I now play extra tournaments instead of charging myself at home.”

Zandschulp is currently ranked 102nd in the world and is scheduled to play in the French Open doubles event on Tuesday.

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