Before your entry into the running, what are your impressions? You were notably stopped in the quarter-finals in Rome …
Rafael Nadal: Frankly, it’s very different, the situation was not at all the same in Rome. The weather conditions were good in Rome. Here they are difficult. It is very cold, it makes things difficult for everyone. These are somewhat extreme conditions to play.
In Rome, you have been felt in difficulty, perhaps less invincible on earth than in some years. Do you feel more vulnerable here, because you have a lack of preparation?
RN: Yes, it’s true. Even if I was already takeable before. Once again, the situation is special. The conditions are probably more difficult, the most difficult that I have experienced here. Different balls, very slow balls, very heavy, very cold ground. The preparation conditions were not the same. I’m less prepared than usual, but I’m here to fight, play as hard as possible, train with the right attitude and give myself chances.
You are not the first to talk about these new balls. Did you have the opportunity to familiarize yourself with it before arriving here?
RN: I already trained with these balls in Mallorca before my return. And in Mallorca, in hot conditions, the balls are slow. In my opinion, these are not good balls for clay, that’s my feeling. Even then, it makes things more complicated. I think the organization will have to see what it is for the next two years and for the health of the players. With a super heavy ball, it’s dangerous for the shoulders and elbows of the players.
Regarding the organization, do you lack benchmarks off the court with the standards imposed, including a different hotel?
RN: Frankly, that doesn’t change much. My off-court habits don’t have a huge influence on what happens on the court. What has an impact are the conditions on the court. They are different, as already said. So, I will try to continue to train well. I have already had two good training sessions. Here, it is 9 degrees. It’s extreme enough to play in a tournament. So, I’m just trying to focus to be ready. That’s my goal, we have to be ready for Monday and that’s it.
You will play in front of 1000 people maximum. Is this a good thing compared to the closed doors of Rome? How does it feel to play in front of so few people at Roland Garros?
RN: Nobody likes to play in these conditions. But you have to deal with it. All we can do is thank the folks at the US Open and Roland Garros who are doing their best to make the tournament a reality anyway. It is not easy. They are losing money. This is what is beautiful about our circuit. They managed to organize it. It’s a time when we can stick together and try to fight to get the circuit back on track. Everyone would like to get back to a normal situation, but first, we have to solve the essential problem, which is global health, which remains the big problem. The only thing we can say is thank you for letting us play tennis.