“Haven’t Played Hard for Almost a Year”: Rafael Nadal Reveals Game Improvisations at Rolex Paris Masters 2020




2020 French Open champion Rafael Nadal is now performing at an optimum level on the hard courts of Rolex Paris Masters. Rafa reached his eight Paris Masters quarterfinal after a dominant victory over Jordan Thompson. Nadal is playing his first hard court tournament in eight months and seemingly showed signs of rustiness in the initial rounds.

Rafael Nadal at the Paris Masters 2020
Rafael Nadal in action during his second-round match against Spain’s Feliciano Lopez. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Rafael Nadal on getting accustomed to the hard court

Although Nadal wasn’t tested against Thompson, he received stern competition from countryman Feliciano Lopez in the opening round. Seeing this, there were multiple improvements in Nadal’s game against Thompson.

“These matches are important tests for me to constantly improve myself. I think I am playing well. But I have to win more matches on this surface,” Nadal said in his post-match press conference.

Nadal’s troubles in the second round could be a consequence of not playing on hard courts since the Mexican Open. Nadal skipped the US Open 2020 and instead prepared on clay courts for the French Open. He said, “There are quite a few things that I don’t play badly, but I haven’t played hard for almost a year. It’s part of the process, of course. I have to go ahead.”

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal reacts during his second-round match against Spain’s Feliciano Lopez. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Against Lopez, Nadal looked out of sorts and made a lot of mistakes on serve. His forehand was error prone, and he struggled in the rallies. But as the match went on, Nadal got accustomed to the hard court and started serving well. He dominated Lopez in the third set with strong baseline rallies. In the end, Nadal came through in three sets and shrugged off any problems he had on the hard court.

“Everything, everywhere, and all the time I want to improve. This is the job that falls to me every day. I always think I can improve myself and I also have to keep my strengths,” Nadal said.

Further, the win against Lopez delivered Nadal his 1000th ATP singles match win. Nadal became the fourth player in history to win 1000 singles matches. He joined Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer, and Ivan Lendl in the exclusive club.

Nadal next plays another compatriot in Pablo Carreno Busta in the quarterfinals. This year has been a record-breaking one for Nadal in the French capital, and he could become a champion again in Paris with his first Paris Masters title.

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