Nadal: “I need to lose fear”

The Spaniard reflects on the state of his game after beating Bergs

May 09, 2024

Peter Staples/ATP Tour

By Staff

It’s no secret that Rafael Nadal has of late dealt with physical challenges, from arthroscopic surgery on his left hip last year to a micro tear in a muscle this year in Australia. Since his return to action in Barcelona, ​​the former No. 1 in the PIF ATP Rankings has fought hard, but has yet to appear in the form that helped him win 92 tour titles, perhaps protecting his body.

But after a tight three-set victory against Zizou Bergs on Thursday at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, the Spaniard said the time has come to let loose and try to fire on all cylinders.

“I have to try to play one hundred percent. It’s not easy because I need to lose a little of the fear that I have in some shots because, for example, in Brisbane I got a tear in the place that I had surgery on last year,” Nadal said. “Sometimes a major surgery like the one I had, I had to remove a major part of the psoas tendon, [hace] that many surrounding muscles work more than before. It’s about having adequate time to adapt all of these muscles to this new hip configuration. But I don’t have that time. “That’s the problem and that’s the truth.”

The 37-year-old explained that he hoped to progress enough to play at 100 percent in Monte Carlo, but his abdominal injury prevented him from being ready to compete.

“I made this progress the last three weeks in the Tour. But the time has come [en el que] I have to try, I have to go for it. If something happens, something happens. That’s the truth,” Nadal said. “It’s not like in Madrid, it’s not like in Barcelona, ​​above all I need to analyze how things are improving, explore if I am able to adapt all these things to the new weeks. But that has already happened and we are in Rome.”

“I have Roland Garros in just two and a half weeks, so… a time has come where I need to test myself if I am capable of pushing my body to the limit I need to feel prepared for what is coming.”

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As Nadal later said, “I need to lose this fear,” starting with his next match against seventh seed Hubert Hurkacz. He recalled against Bergs moments when he moved faster and others when he didn’t.

“I need to get used to that, to taking that risk,” Nadal said. “If something bad happens, we’ll accept it. But it’s time to push. I feel more prepared to try than before.” In recent weeks, Nadal has spoken openly about the ups and downs of his level and how he is not as consistent as in his best years. He added that a game like the one he played on Thursday helps.

“Before the match I felt prepared to play at a good level of tennis because I am feeling the ball much better in training than I felt it in Barcelona and Madrid,” Nadal said. “I feel closer to showing something probably much more positive than what I showed… today. So I need to do it. That’s another story.”

“I feel closer. That’s why I was on the court even without playing well but telling myself that I have to go through and explore the options that I can do much better the next day because my feelings in training are much better than what I had , the level I showed today on the court.”

Nadal admitted he might not play at his best on Saturday against Hurkacz, one of the ATP Tour’s biggest servers. But that doesn’t change his mentality.

“I hope I can play much better than today, start thinking differently,” Nadal said. “Let’s see. I’m excited about the victory. It’s given me the opportunity to move forward. I’m very happy about that.”


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