“The only question is whether Nadal can stay on court for three hours” – Mouratoglou

The French coach will be commentating on Nadal v Zverev live on France Television – and gave his pre-match thoughts exclusively to Tennis Majors

Rafael Nadal Rafael Nadal in practice at Roland-Garros (Zuma/Panoramic)

Ahead of Rafael Nadal’s first-round match at Roland-Garros against Alexander Zverev, coach Patrick Mouratoglou has highlighted plenty of reasons for Rafans to be optimistic – but also flagged up one potential issue.

Mouratoglou – who will be commentating on the match in France – described it as “for sure the match that everybody wants to watch for all the reasons that we know”, and gave some insight from what he had seen on the practice courts.

“Rafa is playing much better – we had a practice with him in the last two days,” said the coach of Holger Rune. “I was really impressed by his movement, by his intensity. I think he’s slowly coming back to his form, which is positive, before that match.”

Mouratoglou: Zverev doesn’t have the game to take time from Nadal

As for the prospect of Zverev, Mouratoglou added: “I think the match-up against Sascha is good for Rafa. Sascha is an incredible player, he’s just won Rome, so he’s going to be very tough, but he’s a player that stays quite far behind the baseline. He doesn’t change rhythm that much. Where Rafa can be beatable is where you take time away from him, which Hurkacz did incredibly well in Rome. I don’t think Sascha has the game to do that type of thing. He’s hitting the ball super well, doesn’t miss, covers the court really well.”

But the potential problem comes when considering the possible length of the match – and the physical toll it could take on a player coming back to full fitness.

“The only real question for me is whether Rafa will be able to stay long on that court, and perform for three hours, because I don’t think he’ll be able to win before three hours. Will he keep his intensity for three hours? Will he be able to do that? For sure that Sascha can, but I don’t know if he [Nadal] can.”

Mouratoglou: The crowd will be supporting Nadal

To France Television, Mouratoglou explained further: “We can expect the crowd to bring huge support for Rafa. It will be phenomenal. But Zverev is a player with a lot of self-confidence and he will not be easy to disturb. I would not bet on that.”

And as for the prospect of Nadal returning to Paris in 2025, he speculated: “Nothing is impossible. The only reason why Rafa thought about retirement is injuries. Every time he was back at competition or even at practice, he got injured. If he feels able to practise without getting injured, there is absolutely no reason to see him stop. Even more: the more he will play, the better he will become.”

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