Rafael Nadal - Roland Garros 2022

Rafael Nadal willing to ‘give everything and die’ at Roland Garros

Rafael Nadal has revealed that he is ‘encouraged’ by his return to the ATP Tour, despite the Spaniard exiting the Barcelona Open at the earliest stage in his career since 2003.

Nadal was beaten by fourth seed Alex de Minaur, 7-5 6-1, in only the record 12-time tournament champion’s fifth loss in Barcelona.

The 37-year-old did have an opportunity to break for a 5-4 lead in the first set, but his Australian opponent held strong and took complete control in the second set.

After playing his first clay court tournament since winning Roland Garros in 2022, Nadal gave a verdict on the performance and revealed his plan for the coming weeks including Roland Garros.

“On a personal level, for what is to come, the 6-1 in the second set is what had to happen today,” Nadal said in his press conference.

“It wasn’t today that I had to give everything and die, I have to give myself the chance to do that in a few weeks, or at least try to. I will try to take a step further in Madrid, then another one in Rome and, in Paris… there is the moment to do it, whatever happens, there is no better place to.”

With Nadal reportedly struggling with serving due to an abdominal injury, the former No.1 detailed how much he had progressed in such a short amount of time.

“I didn’t practice a lot, so that [performance] encourages me to keep going. It tells me that, if I’m able to spend days on the tour and keep practising with the players, I really hope and believe that I can keep being competitive,” explained Nadal. “If my body allows me to push the way that I need.”

The 22-time major winner continued, “I feel much more comfortable and happier today than one week and a half ago. I was able to manage to play two matches, played against a great player. I was not very far [away], without a doubt. I feel myself, if I am able to keep practising days on the tour, and my body allows me to spend hours on court and have practices the way that I need.

“I hope to be competitive. I hope and believe I can be competitive in a few weeks. That’s the way that I need to proceed today, and to give me a chance to be ready at least to compete at Roland-Garros.”

Nadal is set to continue his comeback at the Madrid Masters next week, where he is a record five-time champion.

Inside the baseline…

Rafael Nadal appears to have a good perspective on his time at the Barcelona Open, despite it being his joint earliest ever exit at the tournament. Although he is the ‘king of clay’, it is unrealistic to expect to beat a player as good and professional as Alex de Minaur when you are not feeling 100%. Hopefully Nadal can keep building week by week in time for Roland Garros, where he will have the added hurdle of playing best-of-five set matches for the first time since the 2023 Australian Open.

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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.