Little Corentin Moutet fell asleep with Rafael Nadal’s tank top in his pajamas, he admitted to reporters, after winning the first round of Roland-Garros. On Wednesday, May 25, when good children go to bed, the 23-year-old Frenchman on the Philippe-Chatrier court decided not to let his childish idol lull himself. Before we rub against the champion of the place, the thirteen-time winner, we must remind you that the little left-hander (1.75 meters) with a velvet paw said that he was not afraid: “I’m not afraid of anything at all. I’m going there to win, I’m a competitor, that’s my job.”
In three sets (6-3, 6-1, 6-4) the Spaniard sent, unfortunately the gala evening ended for the Parisian, in terms of 15,000 spectators. For the second year in a row, the tournament is programming night sessions at the headquarters (from the 23rd to the 1stehm June), which lead to the creation of a separate treasury. After the release in 2021, which was spoiled by the camera and subsequently by restrictive standards forced by the health situation, this time the public is at stake – and one day it is not a habit, not even in the locker rooms.
To keep it warm before the players enter the court, he invited the tournament to DJs – Etienne de Crécy, Yuksek and Jabberwocky, among others. “We want these evening sessions to be an event, a show. And that during these ten evenings it will become an unmissable Parisian evening », excited Amélie Mauresmo, the new tournament director, at the March competition. On Wednesday evening, La Fine Equipe did what she could on turntables, but the gloom of Paris didn’t allow Le Chatrier to catch fire with the folded roof.
Diving into the unknown
Not the script either. This match was for the current 139 dives into the unknownand of the world, who won the right to face the Spaniards in the second round by eliminating another winner of the tournament on Monday, returning Swiss Stan Wawrinka (2015). Moutet had never faced the Spaniard before, nor had he kicked the ball with him in practice. The Frenchman, who had been embarrassed for three months due to inflammation of the tendons in his wrist, landed in Porte d’Auteuil with two flying performances in the Challenger (second division of the circuit), in preparation for the crushed bricks.
Even for Spaniards, this edition is one of those where it is presented with the least certainty. This year, no title on its favorite surface and, for the first time since 2004, no Masters 1000 finals in these European countries, which it has long mastered (Monte-Carlo, Madrid, Rome).
After a tumultuous return at the beginning of the year, winning the Australian Open was synonymous with 21.and a record title at the Grand Slam and a series of 21 consecutive victories, the vicious bracket suddenly closed. An injury to his ribs at Indian Wells in early March forced him to go to the Madrid tournament, where he first surrendered against his compatriot and announced successor Carlos Alcaraz in the quarterfinals. The following week in Rome, he finished his round of 16 with a grimace and a limp against Denis Shapovalov.
At almost 36 years old (he celebrates them on June 3), Nadal is once again overtaken by this evil, which has been devouring his left leg since 2005. “I’m not hurt … I live with an injury.” [le syndrome de Muller-Weiss]corrected in front of the media after the defeat with the Canadian. There is nothing new. There are many days when I can’t train normally. It is a pain that comes and goes. Sometimes stronger, sometimes less. »
The former world number one has learned to deal with this pain, which bothers him a little more every day, but it no longer seems far from the turning point. Because it destroys his daily life far beyond the tennis courts. “The time will come when my head will say stop, because the pain will take my pleasure.” Not just for tennis, in life. »
“I stop predicting Nadal”
On Monday, all eyes were glued to his duck blue boots for his entry into the run against Australian Jordan Thompson. Movements and scores of the Majorcan (6-2, 6-2, 6-2) sign his 106and The victory at Roland-Garros – a grand slam pick-up record held so far by Roger Federer (105 at Wimbledon) – encouraged optimism.
On Wednesday, under the eyes of his uncle Toni, an adviser to the Canadian Felix Auger Aliassime, the Spaniard was far from over. However, he has such an advantage over most of his opponents that he remains too dangerous a player for even 75% of his resources.
Amélie Mauresmo does not exclude the Spaniard from the list of candidates for the Musketeers Cup: “I remember the year 2020. It was supposed to disrupt the game conditions, autumn and rain, heavy clay, (…) yet he did not drop a single set. I stop predicting about Nadal, said on the sidelines of the draw for the men’s table favorites in this issue of 2022. When he’s here, he’s usually doing very well. »
“The pain is still there.” The question is not whether he will disappear, but whether he is too strong or not, whether he allows me to play with a real chance of winning or not. he said on the eve of his entry into the run. And if I didn’t believe it, I probably wouldn’t be here. » Sincere beliefs or an excess of optimism? The rest of the tournament will show.