Roland Garros

“The change that Rafa has made with respect to Madrid is huge”

Enrique García, sparring partner of the tournament, trained with Nadal this Sunday

May 26, 2024

Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal, during training at Roland Garros.
By Staff

Out of the spotlight on the first day of Roland Garros, which began this Sunday in Paris, Rafael Nadal completed the preparation for his debut against Alexander Zverev on court number 29 of the Jean Bouin complex with Enrique García, one of the sparring partners of the tournament. .

The 20-year-old was already in Madrid doing that work, but he did not have the option to train with the champion of 22 Grand Slam titles because “Rafa asked for a sparring partner one day, but a left-handed one and I am right-handed. I was there with other players, with [Jannik] Sinner y con Andrey [Rublev] until the day of the final.”

A day before the great debut of the 14-time Musketeers Cup champion in the second Grand Slam of the season, García had the responsibility of being the last to help Nadal get ready before Zverev’s enormous challenge.

“The change that has occurred with respect to Madrid is huge,” García explained to “I already saw him training there and you could tell that he was still getting the hang of it. Yesterday I was at his training here and today I shared a session with him. When you get on the track… you can’t even imagine. The ball comes at you very very fast, it bounces quite a bit, and today the day he was having in Paris was quite cloudy. The intensity he puts into all the balls, both in his legs and in his hitting, is impressive,” he continued.

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“And what seems most impressive to me, something magical, is the aura he has when he is training, transmitting incredible strength. In the end, everyone realizes that. That’s why Rafa is who she is, and that’s why there are always so many people watching her training. And I’m not just talking about the public, but about all the players who are in training.”

“What Rafa conveys to me the most, something that I also saw in Madrid and I think everyone sees, is that it doesn’t matter where he is training: his self-demand that he has behind each ball is the same at the Rafa Nadal Academy or at Roland Garros. . When there is a failure, he always tries to find the reason to improve it. And that’s amazing,” he said.

During the training, which lasted an hour and a half, Nadal paid attention to some specific details of his game, which he worked on thoroughly with García.

“What we have done is that Rafa practiced changing directions in a simple way that always works well: doing two and one,” García explained. “And then I have also seen him work a lot with Marc [López] to play quite forward, instead of so much turning, to look for the back of the court well so that the ball does damage,” he continued. “He has also practiced volleying and approaches a little.”

Thus, after his training with Nadal, the young sparring partner dared to take a brief x-ray of the bombshell crossing of this first round of Roland Garros.

“Surely it will be complicated, but I see Rafa very well,” García predicted. “The ball was going very fast; the right is a cannon, and on the other hand I have seen that he has changed a little, now he hits it a little flatter, he hits it more forward than what I am used to seeing from him,” he explained. “So maybe with Zverev it can be another point to hurt him. I see Rafa very well, and I hope he plays a great game and he can win tomorrow.”


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