Mouratoglou: Nadal is not done, he can win Roland-Garros again

The Frenchman said Nadal has proved to himself his level is there and will be a major threat at the Olympics in July

Rafael Nadal Michael Baucher / Panoramic Rafael Nadal Michael Baucher / Panoramic

Patrick Mouratoglou is convinced that Rafael Nadal he can win the Roland-Garros title for a 15th time, based on his first round level of play this year.

After playing just three matches in the best part of two years due to hip and abdominal issues, Nadal pushed Alexander Zverev hard in their first-round match on Monday, a vast improvement on his performances since he returned to the Tour in April.

The Frenchman said on Instagram the massive strides Nadal made in the past few weeks and the way he played against Zverev had convinced him that the Spaniard will not retire yet and will be a major threat at the Olympics and perhaps even Roland-Garros in 2025.

“Everybody thought, oh, that’s the last match of Rafa or it’s clear now that he cannot compete at that level; all these statements are completely wrong”, Mouratoglou said on Instagram. “I saw the opposite. I saw someone who’s now feeling great, because he knows he can still compete at that level. “

“I think this match against Zverev made him feel that he can compete at the highest level. Of course, he lost it, he lost in three sets. But considering the short time that he had to practice, considering the lack of competition that he has, the quality of the tennis he was able to produce – not consistently the whole match, that’s why he lost, he had a lot of ups and downs which is something that he generally doesn’t have – but the quality of the tennis he was able to play, his movement and everything, I think he feels now that he can compete at the highest level.

Rafael Nadal, Roland-Garros, 2024
Gepa / Panoramic

Mouratoglou : “I think Nadal will do well at the Olympics”

Despite losing in the first round for the first time, Nadal was upbeat after the Zverev match. hinting that he could play on longer, outlining his intent to play at the Olympics.

Mouratoglou said the fact that Nadal will almost certainly skip the grass-court season was another good sign about the way he might be thinking.

“The fact that he decides not to go to Wimbledon is also a strong sign that he wants to win the Olympics and that he thinks he can and that it is not his farewell year, going to every tournament to say goodbye,” he said. “Otherwise, he would go to Wimbledon.

“No,he wants to win the Olympics so he’s going to prepare on clay. He’s going to probably play one or two ATP 250s on clay, most probably, to play some more matches. I think he will do well, first because he will have much more practice in terms of number of weeks, he will have some more competition and great conditions.

“Don’t forget that the conditions he had against Zverev were the worst for him. Indoors, he is really far from his best level; it was very, very humid so the ball was not bouncing. For his spin it’s not great. If he would have played the match outdoors with a big sun and hot it would be different also.

“In the Olympics you will have those conditions because it’s going to be a few weeks later. I think if he does well at the Olympics he is going to is potentially win Roland-Garros next yer. He can for sure.”

Rafael Nadal, Roland-Garros, 2024
Gepa / Panoramic

Nadal has proved he can still compete with the best

Veteran French player Benoit Paire was one of many people who suggested that Nadal would have beaten the vast majority of the field playing the way he did against Zverev. Bein unseeded left him at the mercy of the draw and playing the Rome champion was about as bad as it could have been.

Mouratoglou agreed with Paire’s assessment.

“I agree with Benoit Paire when he said that 95% of the players of the field would lose in three sets against this Rafa,” he said. “I agree with that. I think he was unlucky to play Zverev in the first round. I think if he had played different guys than Zverev he would have won, and probably if he had played Zverev in the quarters or semis it would be a completely different match because then he would have had much more competition and much more practice.

“So again, the people who were talking after the match about Rafa in the past (tense), saying: ‘oh, it was a great career, that’s the end, he clearly cannot compete with those guys anymore’, this is completely untrue for me. It’s exactly the exact opposite. I think he proved to himself that he can compete with still the best players in the world. He just needs more practice and more competition, which he didn’t have the time to have for this Roland-Garros.”

Only two reasons why he would stop playing

Nadal turns 38 next week and one more injury away, you would imagine, from it being the end. If he can stay healthy, then he may well feel he can carry on and win more big titles.

“There are two reasons why he would stop his career.” he said. “First, if he’s injured in a way that he cannot practice the way he needs to practice to be at the top, then he will stop. Or, because he feels he doesn’t have the level anymore.

“But now he feels he has the level after this match. And second, he could play a full match at that level for three sets with that intensity without getting injured, and he could make 10 days full practice and practice matches without being injured. So I think he feels more confident about the physical side now.

“Of course, tomorrow you can have another big injury and then his career might stop but as far as he doesn’t have this injury, he can practice, he can compete and he feels he has a level and he does. I don’t see him stopping his career for the moment.”

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