Anxious Nadal in to quarter-finals
Originally published on: 31/05/11 10:18
Rafael Nadal remains on course for a sixth Roland Garros title after beating 32-year-old Ivan Ljubicic in straight sets to reach the quarter-finals.
The Spaniard won 7-5 6-3 6-3 to set up a last-eight clash with his 2009 conqueror Robin Soderling, but admitted – and the majority of the watching world are in unanimous agreement – that he has not settled into his ruthless best.
“I think I’m still playing a little bit too anxious,” said Nadal. “The conditions were very difficult, I think. There was a lot of wind. At 3-2 in the third set I played a very, very bad game with my serve. At moments I’m still having a few mistakes in a row and that’s something that cannot happen in the next round.”
Much has been made of Nadal’s struggle to adapt to the new, faster-flying balls at this year’s tournament and the world No.1 – who will be usurped by Novak Djokovic at the top of the tree if the Serb reaches the final – was not at his consistent best against the big-serving Croat.
“He wasn’t the easiest opponent to play if you’re not playing very well. It’s very difficult to get the rhythm against Ivan because he has a very good serve.
“It’s difficult to say ‘now I’m going to hit five, six balls the same’ because the rhythm is not there. It wasn’t the right opponent to play to find the right rhythm, in my opinion.”
As for equalling Bjorn Borg and claiming a sixth title at Roland Garros, Nadal added:
“No, seriously, I am not confident. I am not playing well enough to win this tournament at the [level] of today. That the truth. The thing is you have to be realist, and today I’m not playing well enough to win this tournament. We will see after tomorrow if I am ready to play at this level. I going to try…”