French Open the moment to give everything, says Nadal after Barcelona Open defeat

Playing his first tournament in three months, Nadal said the Barcelona Open was a step in the right direction for his French Open preparations

Published : Apr 18, 2024 07:50 IST , BARCELONA - 2 MINS READ

Rafael Nadal gestures as he leaves the court after losing against Australia’s Alex De Minaur.
Rafael Nadal gestures as he leaves the court after losing against Australia’s Alex De Minaur. | Photo Credit: AFP

Rafael Nadal gestures as he leaves the court after losing against Australia’s Alex De Minaur. | Photo Credit: AFP

Rafael Nadal said the upcoming French Open will be the moment to “give everything and die” on the court after his comeback from injury in the Barcelona Open was curtailed by Alex de Minaur on Wednesday.

The 22-time Grand Slam title winner, back playing this week after three months on the sidelines, battled well but eventually crumbled 7-5, 6-1 against the World No. 11 from Australia in the second round.

Nadal, 37, who missed virtually all of the 2023 season, is hoping to compete at the French Open in May where he is the record 14-time champion.

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The Spaniard said the clash with De Minaur was not the moment he was saving himself for, instead targeting his Roland Garros return as the time to go for broke in what he expects will be the last year of his career.

“On a personal level, for what is to come, the 6-1 in the second set is what had to happen today,” said Nadal, who explained there were bigger challenges ahead.

“It wasn’t today that I had to give everything and die, I have to give myself the chance to do that in a few weeks, or at least try to,” Nadal told reporters.

“I will try to take a step further in Madrid, then another one in Rome and, in Paris... there is the moment to do it, whatever happens, there is no better place to,” he added.

Nadal said the key to being able to triumph at Roland Garros was continuing to build in the weeks ahead. “(I need to be) getting the weeks of experience, of matches, and feeling more comfortable with everything,” said Nadal.

“Today I felt more comfortable than yesterday ... I have to be realistic, today I cannot have a game that goes for two-and-a-half-hours, or three.”

The Spaniard, who has won the Barcelona Open title on 12 occasions, eased past Flavio Cobolli on Tuesday in his first ATP Tour match since January. However, he came up short against De Minaur, who has now won his last two clashes against the former World No. 1.

Despite showing flashes of his supreme quality on the court named after him, Nadal was defeated in what he said would “realistically” be his final appearance at the tournament.

“I’m sad because nobody wants Rafa to stop playing,” said De Minaur. “I never thought I’d get a win over Rafa on clay, it’s something I’ll be able to say when I finish my career,” he added.

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