‘An important part of my life is leaving too,’ says emotional Rafael Nadal. ‘The last year has been very hard for me, but I wouldn’t have come out of this if I haven’t tried so hard to play and to give myself more freedom.’
When it comes to his current form, which has been a disappointment since the start of the season, and, perhaps, his form since the age of 21, even his mother does not envy Rafael: ‘To me, Rafael has always been very good. He has a very special talent, a bit unique. I always had faith in him, because he’s never let his talent go and keep growing with every tournament and week. He has always done very, very well. But that is something that can now be said about many people, many coaches and many players.’
‘It’s not easy for me to say things like that now,’ says Nadal, who is not far from home after the first stage of the Spanish Open, and is waiting for his younger brother, Lucas, to arrive. ‘Of course I’m going to try and win this tournament, but it will be difficult. I can’t blame anyone. Tennis does not stop until the last point of the final.’
Tennis does not stop until the last point of the final
In truth, Nadal has not felt too terrible since the start of this year. The problem has been that, even with his return to the rankings last year at No2, his form has been inconsistent. In the last four tournaments he has played, he has finished the year without winning a set, so he has had to make up a lot of ground.
‘The main problem is that I haven’t had a good season in the last four tournaments. It’s the first time in a long time that I have been back at the same level, since I was No2. It’s not easy, but I’m happy with the way I’m playing.
‘I feel a little bit down. I miss my mother and my family. It is not easy to adjust.’
It is true that he has not won a major title since that of London 2012, when he took the ATP Tour’s doubles title with Radek Stepanek. He was also a winner in Monte Carlo, Madrid, Barcelona and Rome, and he had won four weeks