As the ramps intensify, in the direction of that sweet challenge that Paris represents and everything that will be cooked there in the near future, Rafael Nadal increases his pace and his tennis gains revolutions to continue polishing a vitamin week that solves questions. With his victory against the big man Reilly Opelka (double 6-4, in 1h 32m), the Mallorcan catches his twelfth final in Rome, where he aims for his tenth trophy, and loads the trust deposit before sealing the staircase to Paris and face an attractive reunion. Whatever happens this Sunday against Novak Djokovic, he says, he will land there with his homework well done.
“Heading to Roland Garros, the job is done, so tomorrow’s [por este domingo, a las 17.00, #Vamos] it is not a preparation at all. I want to play well and be as competitive as possible ”, warns the Spaniard, who has strictly complied with the script that the duel with Opelka demanded and is satisfied because his progression in the Foro Italico confirms that the possible doubts he had left in the previous seasons are definitely behind us. That is, Nadal is ready, ready for the great Paris fray (May 30 to July 13) and sharp enough to respond to the challenge that Djokovic proposes.
At half past nine at night, the Serbian still battles with Lorenzo Sonego after the morning ration against Stefanos Tsitsipas, to whom he has come back incredibly (4-6, 7-5 and 7-5) after the interruption of the previous day because of the rain. But the number one resists, endures the blow that the emboldened Italian throws at him and ends up reaching again (6-3, 6-7 (5) and 6-2, after 2h 44m) the final episode of the tournament. Nadal says it: “Rome is special, one of the important places in my career”. And this is corroborated by Nole, who has raised five trophies at the Foro Italico, an inspiring territory for both, eleven finals for Belgrade.
He snorts, wanting to go to the hotel now – he has invested 4h 56m to circumvent the marathon Saturday – and begin to design the strategy. It is not for less, pulse greater than two weeks after the start of the Paris appointment, incentives everywhere. There is no time to lose, every gram counts in a dispute between him (33 years) and Nadal (34), the most repeated in tennis history. The books say that the Balkan dominates on the aggregate (29-27) and that the game is at stake in the Masters 1000, for now, also in his favor (36-35 and 7-6 in finals); They also underline that the Spanish rules in the Roman arena, where he won three of the five previous finals.
The physical factor may have the last word in an always volcanic crossing, which was born in the 2006 Roland Garros quarterfinals and has the same scenario as its last precedent, last October for the title. However, Nadal recalls: “I’ve had a very tough week too, although I don’t think what happens today will have an impact tomorrow. I think we are both ready. I have also spent many hours of tension on the track, with a lot of physical and mental load, with which I also carry mine. I will have to do my best to have options ”.
The Balearic Islands will land in the appointment with the certainties that a week of the most thorny has given him, very constructive having to have faced obstacles of all colors and conditions: from the emerging Yannik Sinner to the bombing of Opelka, with the devilish resistance of Shapovalov and the bony Zverev in between. Exams as demanding as they are necessary when certifying biorhythms. “The process of the last month has been positive,” says Nadal. “I have been able to complete my schedule and have spent many hours on the track. I have to adjust a couple of things, but the job is done ”, he repeats with pride of duty accomplished.
Meanwhile, Djokovic finished the day with a tangle against Sonego that delayed his access to the final, so he shortened his answers and was sincere: “Honestly, right now I just think about recovering. Today I have played a lot. If I want to have a chance against Rafa, the first thing I need is to rest. Lorenzo has shown why he has reached his first semi-finals of a Masters 1000, I congratulate him. Hopefully I can have fresh legs. I’ll need it tomorrow. “