Rafael Nadal, Roland Garros magazine

Prior to Roland Garros 2015, Rafael Nadal talked to Roland Garros Magazine about his past decade at Roland Garros. Here are a few extracts:

2003 and 2004: injuries

In 2003, I was high enough in the rankings (No. 87) for direct acceptance into the main draw but I hurt my elbow, so I had to withdraw.

In 2004, I had a bad left foot injury and I was off from April until July. This time though I came to Paris as I was invited by one of my sponsors. It was the first time that I’d been at Roland Garros. I was on crutches, but it didn’t stop me from going all the way to the top of the stands at Philippe Chatrier Court. I sat on one of the seats to the right of the court to drink in the atmosphere. It’s a fond memory for me. I was disappointed not to be able to play but deep down, I knew that sooner or later I would be able to take part in the tournament.

Tennis on clay:

Tennis on clay is the most complete expression of the sport as far as I’m concerned. The rallies are longer since the surface is slower, so you have to construct every point and implement a strategy to try to grind down your opponent. You need to be more patient, know how to defend and find a way to take control of points. And if you like this surface and feel at home on it, Roland Garros is obviously the temple of clay. It’s a unique point in the season.

2005, first Roland Garros trophy:

I’d won a lot of titles on clay – in Brazil, Acapulco, Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome, so I had a lot of confidence. I knew that I had the game and the strength to go deep. During the tournament, I just took one match at a time, but I knew that if I played my best, I could achieve something.
When I see myself in 2005, I see a player with an incredible energy and enormous powers of concentration. I was on such a good form. I played with real intensity and passion. I was young and I had a carefree attitude you would expect of a 19-year-old. In the final against Mariano Puerta, I knew that it would be a difficult match and that’s what it was. But I knew that anything was possible. This win will always be a key moment in my career. In the space of two months, I went from No. 50 in the world to winning Roland Garros. I handled it well in my head, because after this win, I stayed the same, I carried on working hard to keep on the right path as best I could.

It’s true that after that first win, I thought “That’s it, my dream has come true, so now the rest of my career, I will be calmer.” But I’d got it all wrong. Because each season, it was the same thing – you’re nervous, you want to win because you want to get back that indescribable feeling of emerging victorious at a Grand Slam tournament. So this feeling of calm that I thought I had got with that win turned out to be very temporary because a few months later, the tension and the desire to give it my all came back – stronger than before.

Not only the King of clay:

Winning at Roland Garros gives you the strength and the confidence to win elsewhere. Because when you start winning, you get into a virtuous circle: winning boosts your confidence, it makes you calmer, you gain more experience and it gives you a healthy dose of positive energy. Roland Garros is therefore a unique tournament in my career because it also enabled me to win on hard courts, on grass and everywhere else. In 2005, a lot of people thought that I could only play on clay, but after I won the French Open, I went on to win the Masters 1000 in Montreal and the tournament in Madrid (then played on hard courts), so I was good enough to win on other surfaces.

2008, 2012, 2014:

Lots of things have happened to me at Roland Garros. 2008 for example was the year that I was further ahead the pack than ever before. I didn’t drop a set and think that this is the tournament where I played my best tennis.
In 2014 against Novak Djokovic, it was the toughest final physically. I’d never felt that tired – at the end of the first set as well. It was very hot, humid and muggy even though it had been quite cool throughout the fortnight. My body struggled with it. I also had some fitness problems during this tournament.
In 2012, I had cortisone injections to play because my knee was hurting. Thee was another year, I forget which one, when I also needed injections, this time on my foot. But injuries and fitness issues are part and parcel of being a tennis professional. With hindsight, I can see that the injuries led to me missing some important moments and tournaments but at the same time, they allowed me to put into perspective everything that I’ve achieved.

Rafael Nadal, Roland Garros Magazine

2009:

That defeat in 2009 was a hard one to swallow, I won’t deny that, but at the same time it wasn’t a tragedy. You mustn’t blow it out of proportion. I’d won the tournament in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008. And I told myself that I wasn’t going to win Roland Garros every year and that’s normal, I can actually lose, I know that, so I went home and decided to prepare as best I could to try to win it again.

2010:

It was a very special victory. Even if I didn’t drop a set this year, it wasn’t as easy as in 2008. I was coming from a long way back. 2009 was a very tough year, both personally and physically. I hurt my knee before Roland Garros then after that it was my stomach muscles during the American swing. I went through some bad times. And after all that, I came back and won Roland Garros again. I was very, very emotional, and this win was the starting point of an exceptional period because I went on to win Wimbledon and the US Open. And once again it all started at Roland Garros.

Source: Roland Garros Magazine

Also read:
Roland Garros 2005: Nadal defeats Puerta
Roland Garros 2014: a fan’s perspective on Nadal’s win
Roland Garros 2015 coverage

Roland Garros 2014 final

Thanks a lot to Simon for sharing his pictures and feelings on Nadal‘s triumph:

Since our tickets are the cheapest, we sat waaaay up and in the corner. However, it was still an amazing experience since court PC is cozy. As a Rafa fans and with Rafa struggling during clay court season, we had doubts if we would see him in semis and final, haha! Needless to say, the final was even more nail-biting! First time seeing Rafa in a Slam final live was mesmerizing!! I’m surprised there are so many chanting. Basically after every point, someone yelled out something. The atmosphere was simply unbelievable. Of course, it was even greater that Rafa prevailed and won his 9th RG title!! I am feeling blessed that I get to see this moment :)))))

Nadal vs Djokovic

Nadal vs Djokovic
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Maria Sharapova

That’s a Roland Garros tradition: every year French Open winners pose with their trophy in front of the Eiffel Tower for the delight of the photographs and the fans. Thanks to Loic, enjoy some pictures of Maria Sharapova, radiant after her hard-fought victory over Simona Halep.

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova

Rafael Nadal’s road to the final

Rafael Nadal

Round Opponent Score
R1 Robby Ginepri 6-0 6-3 6-0
R2 Dominic Thiem 6-2 6-2 6-3
R3 Leonardo Mayer 6-2 7-5 6-2
R4 Dusan Lajovic 6-1 6-2 6-1
QF David Ferrer 4-6 6-4 6-0 6-1
SF Ernests Gulbis 6-3 6-3 3-6 6-3
Novak Djokovic’s road to the final

Novak Djokovic

Round Opponent Score
R1 Joao Sousa 6-1 6-2 6-4
R2 Jérémy Chardy 6-1 6-4 6-2
R3 Marin Cilic 6-3 6-2 6-7 6-4
R4 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-1 6-4 6-1
QF Milos Raonic 7-5 7-6 6-4
SF Ernests Gulbis 6-3 6-3 3-6 6-3

Who will win between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic? Please share your thoughts.

Who will win Roland Garros 2014?

  • Rafael Nadal (40%, 108 Votes)
  • Novak Djokovic (29%, 79 Votes)
  • Roger Federer (21%, 57 Votes)
  • Stanislas Wawrinka (4%, 10 Votes)
  • Other (2%, 6 Votes)
  • Tomas Berdych (1%, 4 Votes)
  • Andy Murray (1%, 3 Votes)
  • David Ferrer (1%, 2 Votes)
  • John Isner (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Richard Gasquet (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 269

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Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal reached his ninth French Open final after his 6-3 6-2 6-1 demolition of Andy Murray on Friday.

Andy Murray:

He played a great match. He missed hardly any balls. He served very well. His forehand, especially with the conditions the way they were today, was incredibly hard to control. As soon as he was inside the court he was hitting the ball so close to the line.

Toni Nadal:

I think he played one of his best matches at Roland Garros

Nadal will face Djokovic who ousted Gulbis in the other semifinal. Nadal and Djokovic will face for the 42nd time on Sunday, the Serbian has won their last 4 meetings. So, who’s your favorite for the final Rafa or Novak?

Roland Garros 2014 - Rafael Nadal & Andy Murray 01

Rafael Nadal

Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal

Roland Garros 2014 - Rafael Nadal 05

Roland Garros 2014 - Rafael Nadal 06

Andy Murray

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal

Rolland Garros 2014 - Rafael Nadal & Andy Murray 02

Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray

Rafael Nadal

Andy Murray

Rafael Nadal

Thanks a lot to Jérôme Chainay for the pictures!

Novak Djokovic

Djokovic cruised through the first two sets 6-3 6-3 and then suddenly seemed to suffer physically in the third set that he lost 6-3. He refocused in the fourth set to advance to the French Open final for the second time of his career:

The first two sets went well. Then suddenly midway through the third set I started to feel physically fatigued a little bit, and you could feel that.
I’m going to have now two days of recovery and get ready for the final.

If he wins against Nadal on Suday, he’ll become the eighth man in tennis history to complete a career Grand Slam, and will also return to No. 1.

First time Grand Slam semifinal Gulbis said he struggled with tiredness and tension during the match:

The difference in the match was, first of all, I’m not used to playing these kind of big matches. It’s just normal I felt extra nervous and extra tense. I can take one positive side out of the match: that I could still win a third set feeling that nervous and that extra tired, and I saw that he was feeling the same. So, it’s not only me.

Following his good results in Paris, Gulbis will enter the top 10 for the first time of his troubled career.

Rolland Garros 2014 - Novak Djokovic 01

Rolland Garros 2014 - Novak Djokovic 02

Rolland Garros 2014 - Ernests Gulbis 02

Rolland Garros 2014 - Novak Djokovic 04

Rolland Garros 2014 - Ernests Gulbis 03

Amélie Mauresmo

Ernests Gulbis

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

Ernests Gulbis

Novak Djokovic 

Novak Djokovic and Ernests Gulbis

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

Thanks a lot to Jérôme Chainay for the pictures!