Lehecka: “It will be a great honor to play against Nadal and the greatest challenge in tennis”

The Czech will be Nadal’s next rival

April 29, 2024

Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour

Jiri Lehecka beat Monteiro and will go for more against Nadal at the Mutua Madrid Open.
By Staff

At 22 years old, Jiri Lehecka is a player who still has a lot to give on the Tour and at the Mutua Madrid Open he will have the chance to put him on the court, neither more nor less, than against Rafael Nadal, seeking the quarterfinals.

After leaving behind a very disputed victory with the Brazilian Thiago Monteiro by 6-4 and 7-6(7), he will have the chance to face the legendary Nadal. “It is a great honor and a great experience for me because we all know that Rafa on clay is one of the biggest challenges in tennis even though he is not having the best season after being injured.”

However, Nadal’s face is not a strange one for Lehecka: Last week, the two tennis players were training together. Of course, the circumstances will be far from being the same. “It’s always a little different because when we practiced, it was training, it was windy and we were both kind of trying to find our rhythm again… so it’s something totally different.”

“I think with Rafa, it makes a big difference whether he’s playing in practice or when he’s competing, where he has all the fans supporting him. He can run a lot in the background, so he will be totally different and definitely improved his game,” he defined.

For now, the Czech knows the difficulty it will be to have him on the other side of the field. “I think his level has returned and that he has shown that he can play great tennis again, and it will be a great challenge and I will try to show my best tennis,” he predicted.

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Although he is not with him this week in Madrid, his compatriot Tomas Berdych is part of his team, and he is someone who knew how to beat the Spaniard five times. “Tomas had good results here in Madrid. He played well when the clay was blue. He felt very good because he was slippery and very fast. I always talk to him about Roger dropping him when he was trying to catch her. And I always make fun of it coming in topspin form,” he said with a laugh.

Will he ask you for tactical advice on how to approach the game? “He played with Rafa several times. And I’m sure he’ll have something to say about how I should play against him, we’re in touch and we’ve already texted each other after my win.”

Meanwhile, beyond seeking to continue advancing in Madrid, Lehecka is going for more in a season that he hopes to finish within the Top20 of the PIF ATP Ranking. “I had a very good start to the season. One of my goals for this season was to win my first title, I achieved it the first week of the year. And then my second goal is to finish the year in the top 20. It’s something I aspire to, of course, if it gets better and better, my goals will change a little bit,” she said.


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