Rafael Nadal - Roland Garros 2022

Rafael Nadal claims he ‘didn’t test body much’ in dominant Madrid victory

Rafael Nadal has returned to the Madrid Open in convincing fashion, beating 16-year-old wildcard Darwin Blanch in the first round.

Nadal beat the young American, 6-1 6-0, in just over an hour and spoke about how it felt to be back competing on Court Manolo Santana.

“Well, it’s great,” said Nadal. “For me, after how things… developed in the last few years, every time that I had a chance to be on court, on this amazing stadium with unconditionally supportive crowd. It means a lot to me.

“So I’m just trying to enjoy every moment. And tomorrow, one more day of practice here and after tomorrow again on court. So that makes me feel great.”

Despite evidently feeling pleased with his 57th win at the Madrid Masters, Nadal suggested that it is hard to judge his level after not being tested.

“Today I played against an opponent with a future in front (of him), but today he’s still making mistakes,” admitted the 37-year-old. “So I just tried to be there, be solid all the time without taking a lot of risks and (it) worked well.

“I mean, I didn’t test much my body today. I think I played a decent match doing the things that I had to do to be through, but at the same time, I played against a player that today – I don’t know in a few weeks – he’s not solid enough yet because he’s making more mistakes.”

Nadal has only played five matches this year, and spoke to press about where his level compares to himself of old.

“I try to play at my 100%, but I can’t give my 100% every day,” explained Nadal. “I give my 100% everyday. The thing is before, most of the time, I was able to give my 100% of the 100%.

“Today, I’m able to give my 100% of sometimes 40%, sometimes 60%, sometimes 70%, and if I am able to raise this percentage day after day or week after week, why not in the future, what can happen? If not, it’s impossible.”

With Roland Garros the priority for most players in the clay court season, Nadal has recently suggested that he would not play the tournament in his current state.

And the record 14-time winner at the Paris major has since admitted that he is just being realistic, “It’s part of my tennis career too. I went through a lot of injuries and I had to be back. And the good is that I was able to be back strong very quick. That’s why I was able to achieve so many records in terms of holding my ranking in a very high position for such a long time and to be competitive.”

He continued, “Today is a different story. I mean, I never had this super long period of time without playing, and important surgeries, and I’ve never had that in almost 38 (years), I was in a different age.

“I’m trying as always and let’s see. I am not negative, I’m just realistic. I am here to try to explore what can happen in the next couple of weeks.”

Nadal will have a day off competing today, before taking on 10th seed Alex de Minaur tomorrow, who he lost to in Barcelona last week.

Inside the baseline…

Although it was an impressive victory from Rafael Nadal, it is probably a fair assessment from him to say that it is not the match to judge his level against, without being disrespectful to Darwin Blanch. Alex de Minaur is the perfect player to judge that level against, as Nadal can compare his performance from Barcelona to a week later in Madrid.

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.