Wimbledon

Rafael Nadal returns to rivalry in Cincinnati: “Accepting challenges”


“We haven’t seen you since you pulled out of the Wimbledon semifinals. How do you feel about starting the Cincinnati Masters 1000?
Happy to be here again after a few years. I became world number 1 for the first time in 2008, it’s a great memory. And of course the championship in 2013… I train pretty well. I hope to be ready. A small abdominal tear is dangerous. It’s a dangerous area because you use it a lot in every service, so I need to take precautions, get it right. This is what I’m trying to do.

“You can’t expect to play at an extraordinary level from the start. Once you know that, when you accept it, you have to be humble enough to hold on to the tools of the moment and win the first game.”

How have the last few weeks been in terms of preparation?
I went there step by step. I started by serving ten. I’ve been on duty for ten days. Quietly first. I played my first training set here the previous day (Friday). I need a few more days to analyze how it goes in terms of tummy feeling. I spent over a month without serving and playing a single set. I have to analyze how he reacts every day, I have to make sure his abs are good. For now, it’s going well. I can’t wait, I want to play tennis at halftime again. I’m having a good season, I’m having fun, I want it to be like that in Cincinnati this week.

What are the keys to getting back in good shape after a few weeks off?
The first thing is to be aware that not everything will be perfect right away. You cannot expect to play at an extraordinary level from the very beginning. Once you know this, when you accept it, you must be humble enough to hold on to the tools of the moment and win the first game. Things start to change when you win a game or two.

We’ll say I played it more or less right there. I have good feelings on the court, but competition is always different. In particular, you must accept the challenges that will arise in Masters 1000. When you get back to a 250, or sometimes even a Grand Slam, if you have some luck in the draw you can, even if you don’t play very well. win a few matches and give yourself time to level up. In Masters 1000, the difficulty is very high from the start. You have to play at a very high level immediately. This is what I have to do. I will try.

“Serena Williams? She is one of the greatest athletes of all time. I feel lucky to have shared all these years with her on the track. She is a huge inspiration to so many people.”

You have the opportunity to become world No. 1 again in the next few weeks. What does being 36 mean to you?
The most important thing for me is to stay healthy. Otherwise, everything else is impossible. As I said at the beginning of the season, being number 1 in the world can no longer be a goal. I’m not playing for this. If it happens because I play so well in every tournament I attend, of course it’s great. It’s an opportunity I’d probably never dream of happening again. But I won’t play more than I think my body can handle. I’m going to have a baby too!

I will give my all at every event I go to. But it’s something I always do, whether I’m in the #1 position in the world or not. Frankly, I am happy to be in this privileged position. And if that happens, it will be an incredible feeling.

Serena Williams is about to end her career. What does it represent for tennis?
I have many memories of him. He is one of the greatest athletes of all time. I feel lucky to have shared all these years with him on the track. Selfishly, it’s a pity that he left. But we can’t thank him enough for everything he’s done for our sport. He is a great inspiration to many people around the world.

He deserves to choose the best for himself at this point in his life. I wish him the best. I hope we continue to see him on the track. I always thought our sport and all sports were bigger and stronger when they had their legends. And Serena is a legend. »



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