The world tennis number one, Rafael Nadal, who a week ago had to retire in Paris due to an injury that affects his serve, hopes to be 100% to compete in London, in the Masters Tournament, but said he could not guarantee it yet. .
“I do not want to lie to you, I am confident that it can go well but I also have the doubt that it could go wrong because the time since what happened in Paris until today is very short,” he said in London, where The eight best tennis players of the year are measured at the Masters from November 10 to 17.
Nadal, who on Monday regained the tennis throne by ousting Serbian Novak Djokovic, had to withdraw last Saturday from the Masters 1000 in Paris before playing the semifinal due to a strained right rectus abdominis muscle.
“It is not a serious break because otherwise I could not be here” but “the area where I had the problem is a conflictive area at the service level,” he acknowledged.
After receiving the approval of the doctors, on Thursday he began to serve “very slowly” and plans to increase the effort until Monday, when he has his first game, against the young German Alexander Zverev, defender of the title.
– Djokovic, go for number one –
The Spanish will fight in London to defend his throne against Djokovic, who if he reaches the final can finish the year again as the world’s first racket.
The tournament is played on an indoor court, a very fast surface, where the Serbian shines and where the serve is of crucial importance.
Is Nadal confident in being able to serve with his injury? “I don’t know, I can’t tell if I’m confident,” he admitted.
“You have to see when I get 100%, that until tomorrow (Saturday) surely that will not be, then we will see how everything responds.”
However, in his workouts so far he has not felt “any kind of problem, any kind of pain.”
“I feel perfect” and “I’m looking forward to it,” he assured.
Despite his long and fruitful career, the 33-year-old Spaniard has never won the Masters and tends to have physical complications towards the end of the season: in 2018 he did not come to London due to an injury and in 2017 he had to retire after having played a single game for a knee problem.
But “that was a much more chronic thing and this is a specific thing,” he says, comparing his current injury with that of two years ago and the risk that it will prevent him from playing.
“I am confident in being able to be very competitive but, of course, this is a tournament where you face the best from the beginning and you have to be 100%,” he said.
– ‘Successful next generation’ –
Nadal shares a group with rising promises Daniil Medvedev, 23, Stefanos Tsitsipas, 21, and Zverev, 22.
In the opposite box are veterans Djokovic and Roger Federer, 32 and 38 years old respectively, along with Dominic Thiem (26) and Matteo Berrettini (23).
Djokovic, who this year won the Australian Open and Wimbledon, acknowledged that he wanted to finish at the top.
“It is one of the two greatest achievements you can have as a professional tennis player: winning a great Slam and being number one in the world at the end of the season,” he said.
Like Federer and Nadal, the Serb praised the “successful next generation” of tennis players, eager to dethrone them despite having had mitigated results this year.
“These older guys are still here, and they are still better than us because they are the ones who win the tournaments,” said Zverev, who surprised him by taking the title in London last year.
But “we are going to create the future of this sport,” said Greek Tsitsipas.
In Nadal’s opinion, “they are super good, they say they are the future but they are the present.”
They will be “good rivals” with whom “we will compete for a while and then watch them on television,” Nadal joked, while Djokovic said they will leave tennis “in good hands” when they retire.
That surely is not soon. AFP