Roland Garros has had part of his heart torn out. It is a Grand Slam without a king. The impressive statue of Rafa Nadal in the facilities, three meters high and emulating his characteristic forehand, is the only tangible presence of the Spanish player, absent for the first time in the tournament since it debuted. His aura, like that of all great legends, however, is felt. “It is always exciting when Rafa plays, when he steps on the track. And it’s been like that with him, Roger (Federer) and Novak (Djokovic) for the last 20 years. Every time they’re missing, it’s different, and it’s always more exciting for the tournament when they play,” Casper Ruud explained. in statements to Eurosportprovided exclusively to AS.
In this edition of the Musketeers Cup, the Norwegian, who debuts this Tuesday against the Swede Elias Ymer, 155th in the world (at 11:00), a lot is played. Last year, Ruud, making the cliché real and fulfilling a childhood dream, faced Nadal in the final. At 14 years old, In 2013, Casper was present in the stands of the Philippe Chatrier to cheer on his idol, Rafawhich would end up achieving its eighth title in Paris. In 2018, as 143rd in the world, He entered the Rafa Nadal Academy in Manacor. From all that to face each other for the first time and in the final of the finals. “I have never played against Rafa, the last of the great players that I have not faced, and it is the perfect moment, in the final of a Slam”, he said then, before falling before his referent. As a finalist, Ruud now defends 1,200 points in the ranking, in which he is fourth.
This time, their paths may not cross. The Norwegian, however, continues to believe in at least one more Nadal appearance on his clay court. “I’m sure they did everything they could to be ready. (Nadal and his team), but that could not be. Of course, I think we will see Rafa again at Roland Garros. I know him well enough to know that he never gives up and, as he himself said, I think he wants and hopes for a better ending to his career. I mean, it’s inevitable that the end is near, but I think we’ll see Rafa at least one more time at Roland Garros feeling ready and fit to win the tournament. He never gives up,” says Ruud.who, in recent weeks, has been in contact with the player from the Balearic Islands.
Ruud and Nadal, in contact
The relationship between Casper and Rafa, the result of the bond they maintain as a result of the academy, is very good. In December, without going any further, they were on a joint tour of Mexico. “I think he needs a bit of free time now. I know that you have been trying to push the clock and time, but it has not been possible. Now, he has a full year”, dissects Ruud about what awaits Nadal ahead. In his last conversations, the Norwegian wished the Spaniard “to be ready soon.” “He didn’t really give me a clear answer on when he would be back, but he’s doing his best and hopes to see me again soon. We all wish him as quick a recovery as possible and that it would be great to see him. As he himself said, he hopes to be there by the end of the year, play a few games and be ready for the next one. I think that is the ultimate goal for him”, he reveals about the talks. His wishes are shared by the entire tennis world.
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