Staying away from the court for almost two months following that terrible Australian Open loss, Rafael Nadal hoped for a strong run at his beloved clay, entering Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid and setting eyes on three trophies.
Instead, the Spaniard claimed only one title, standing a point away from losing that one as well and performing miles below his best ahead of Rome. Nadal will kick off the action at Foro Italico against the fellow top-20 player Jannik Sinner, seeking a deep run after failing to reach the semis at the previous three clay-court Masters 1000 event for the first time in a career!
Returning to action in Monte Carlo in April, Rafa scored two commanding wins before losing to Andrey Rublev 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 in the quarters, standing powerless in the deciding set against the young opponent and experiencing the first setback on clay this year.
David Goffin spoke about Rafael Nadal and his chances in Rome and Paris.
The start of the Barcelona Open campaign wasn’t much better either, but the Spaniard managed to pass those obstacles and enter the final. Battling for the title, Rafa saved a match point in that epic Stefanos Tsitsipas clash, prevailing after nearly three hours and 40 minutes for the first ATP title since October.
Hoping for more of the same in Madrid, Nadal suffered the quarter-final loss to Alexander Zverev 6-4, 6-4, making a good start but losing ground and failing to match the level of the eventual champion. David Goffin talked about Rafa in Rome, stating that the Spaniard is not at his best but also that we can’t rule him out.
The Belgian believes that Nadal will play at his best in Rome and Paris, challenged by many rivals from the top but still standing as the player to beat at Roland Garros. “It’s difficult to tell more about Nadal’s form at the moment.
Of course, we are used to seeing Rafa win everything. Once in 15 years, he arrives in Rome and Paris with two defeats, and we start wondering if he is still strong enough. Alexander Zverev played on a high level against him in Madrid, and even if Rafa wants to win everything, his main goal is still Roland Garros.
Nadal’s rivals are playing better and better on clay. Novak Djokovic, Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev, Matteo Berrettini, Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas are all tough to beat. The conditions in Madrid are very fast, and it’s Nadal’s least favorite clay event.
At some point, Rafa will have to stop, but I think he is still among the favorites and the one to beat in Rome and Paris,” David Goffin said.