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Nadal won’t fret over results leading up to the French: “The aim is to peak at Roland-Garros”

After his surprise defeat in Monte-Carlo, the world No 3 says he is doing everything he can to be in perfect shape for Paris and he is not focused like in the past on his results in events leading up up to Roland-Garros.

Rafael Nadal Monte Carlo 2021 Rafael Nadal Monte Carlo 2021 Antoine Couvercelle / Panoramic

Rafael Nadal reiterated Tuesday that he plans to peak at Roland-Garros as he tries to win the title for a record 14th time.

The 34-year-old Spaniard was surprisingly beaten by Russian Andrey Rublev in the quarter-finals of the Monte-Carlo Masters last week.

The world No 3, who will make his Barcelona bow on Wednesday against Ilya Ivashka, told reporters on Tuesday that he was not surprised by what happened in Monte-Carlo and hinted that winning pre-Roland-Garros events is perhaps less important now than when he was younger.

“Well, I want to win events before because I like to win events, and events are super important for me,” said Nadal, who has won the title in Barcelona 11 times. “You can win Roland-Garros winning events before; and you can win Roland-Garros without winning events before. Of course it’s easier to win Roland-Garros when you are winning events in a row before, like I did almost all my career, during this clay-court season, but at the same time, I am close to 35 and the situation is a little bit different.

Rafael Nadal Monte-Carlo

“The main goal for me is just put myself in a chance position. That’s the real goal for me. I want to give myself chances to be competitive in every single event but it’s true that I didn’t compete very often for the last year, so coming back to competition, even if I felt comfortable and I felt ready for Monte-Carlo, always it’s tough and matches like this are easier to happen when you are not competing weeks in a row, being honest.”

On average, Rafa Nadal has won 9 out of every 10 matches on clay in his career.

Nadal: “Peak at the right moment”

Having not played a tournament for two months because of a lower-back injury, it was perhaps less of a shock than it might have been, although he is traditionally a fast starter on his favourite surface, winning the title in Monte-Carlo on 11 occasions.

With the exception of 2020 – where the Coronavirus pandemic meant only one of the traditional big pre-Roland-Garros events (Rome) was possible, on the other 12 occasions that Nadal has lifted the Coupe des Mousquetaires at Roland-Garros, he has also won at least one of Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid and Rome.

“So I am planning to compete here, to compete in Madrid, to compete in Rome and then to compete in Roland-Garros. I am making my calendar to try to be ready for everything, but of course it’s true that Roland-Garros is an important one for me and I’m going to work every day with the right intensity, with the right attitude to try to get to that peak point at the right moment.”

Roland-Garros move understandable

The decision by Roland-Garros to move back a week in the calendar means that the players competing in the semi-finals and final in Paris will have just two weeks to prepare for Wimbledon, as it was for decades until Wimbledon moved back in the schedule in 2015.

But Nadal, who last won Wimbledon in 2010, said the decision was taken for a good reason.

“It has been a very tough year for everyone, for the tournament promoters, for the organisations and the players, so I want to be flexible and understand everything to make our sport a bit better,” he said.

“So if that means that it’s going to be a good crowd, then, welcome. OK, one week less for Wimbledon, yes, we don’t want that, that’s why we extended (it to) three weeks, but it’s one year, hopefully, and we’ll come back to the normal calendar soon. Hopefully with the vaccine everything improves and we can come back to our normal lives and normal enjoyment during sporting events, that’s the goal today.

“I’m not a big fan of complaining about everything and every single change that is happening today, I want to understand every single position, especially under these circumstances.”

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