Misc Tennis

Hope Will Decide if He Plays

Nadal Pulls Out of Monte-Carlo With No Official Plans for Return

By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Saturday April 27, 2024

Rafael Nadal took a big step in the right direction on Saturday at the Madrid Masters, upending 11th-ranked Alex de Minaur for his first Top 20 win since 2022 and displaying some of the vintage form that he has become known for on his beloved red clay.

Tennis Express

The legendary King of Clay was hopeful after his 7-6(6), 6-3 win over De Minaur, but also realistic about the difficulties he feels he is still facing as the clock ticks and Roland-Garros approaches.

“It’s not about playing better, playing worse,” Nadal told reporters in Madrid. “It’s about going on court with real hope. Then anything can happen. But before the tournament [I need to] have the hope that I can play and I can play for … a few days in a row fighting for the balls that I need to fight to be through.

“If I have this hope, I am gonna be on court. If I know before the tournament that my body will not hold for the whole tournament, I will not be on court. That’s the way that I see it.”

Nadal has played four matches since he restarted his season after tearing a muscle in January at Brisbane, and has increased his level step by step. Today he was in fine form, and energized by an emotional crowd as he came through what very well could have been his last match on home soil.

Cautious – and cautiously optimistic – 37-year-old Nadal will continue to read the tea leaves and hope for good news from his body. It’s all he can do at the moment.

“Every day is a test, and because I am going through things that I haven’t gone through for almost two years, that’s the thing,” Nadal said. “In some way, that’s why I can’t always be super positive, because if I know that my body will hold well today, gonna be a super-happy day, because it will have been a step forward, and step forward is always super important.

“But for me it’s more important to know that after today is more about winning or losing. It is [about] if I can go on court and try to do something similar today or just fight for the match again. That’s the thing. And I can’t be sure about that, because today was the most important test since I came back.”

Five-time Madrid champion Nadal will face Argentina’s Pedro Cachin in the third round.

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