June 20, 2024
Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal’s coach Carlos Moya has warned the great Spaniard will “play to death” in his clash with Alexander Zverev in the opening round of the 2024 French Open.

The former world No 1 asserted there will be “no holding back” from Nadal, while also admitting it would have been better to face an opponent like Zverev deeper in the tournament.

Nadal will take on Zverev, the world No 4, in his first match at Roland Garros since winning his 22nd Grand Slam and 14th title at the clay-court Major in 2022. The duo will meet in an opening round blockbuster on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Monday.

Zverev secured the Italian Open title earlier this month and the 27-year-old German reached the semi-finals at the French Open in each of the last three years.

The pair faced off in the last four at Roland Garros in 2022, when Zverev suffered a horrific ankle injury that ended his season.

Rafael Nadal was leading 7-6 (8), 6-6 in a brutal encounter that had already lasted over three hours, before Zverev’s injury caused him to leave the court in a wheelchair.

The 37-year-old Spaniard played eight matches across Barcelona, Madrid and Rome prior to what could be his last French Open appearance.

In an interview with atptour.com, Moya explained that Nadal is now ready to commit to giving everything physically on court after his recent injury issues.
“There will be no holding back now. Rafa will play to the death, at 100 per cent, giving his all. We’re in a new situation: five-set matches. He hasn’t done that for two years, but we think he’s ready,” the Moya said.

“There’s no more risk than there was in Brisbane or any other tournament. If something happens to him it’s not for a lack of practice or matches.

“It will be because of an exertion that his body hasn’t been able to cope with, but we’re confident nothing should happen.”

Moya recognised Nadal had been given one of the worst possible draws, but expressed that the tennis great is feeling positive.

“Of course, it’s one of the worst opponents he could get. He’s coming in in great shape, no injuries and confident. And he just won in Rome. It was always something that could happen,” explained the Spaniard.
“Considering the fact that Rafa is unseeded, the draws have been kind until now, fair. This time it was the worst that could happen.

“We were hoping for a draw that would allow him to find his rhythm and confidence gradually. But the circumstances are different. We got Zverev and we have to approach it in the best way possible.

“He is raring to go, and has a very positive attitude. For our part, we know where we are and who we’re with. You hold onto that. It’s going to be a very tough, well-fought match. If Rafa can play at the level he has been in practice… why not think positive?”

The 1998 French Open champion conceded, though, that it would have been preferable to avoid a player of Zverev’s level in the early rounds.

“As deep as possible [in the draw would have been better]. That would mean Rafa would have won matches and he would have momentum. I don’t think it’s positive playing Zverev in the first round, honestly. We have to be honest and say things as they are,” Moya added.

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