June 19, 2019
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Nadal to start French Open title defense in top form

 Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after defeating Novak Djokovic of Serbia in their men's singles final match at the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome, Italy, May 19, 2019. EPA-EFE FILE/ETTORE FERRARI

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after defeating Novak Djokovic of Serbia in their men's singles final match at the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome, Italy, May 19, 2019. EPA-EFE FILE/ETTORE FERRARI

Paris, May 24 (efe-epa).- Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal seems to have rediscovered his form ahead of the French Open, where he is bidding for a record-extending 12th title.

Nadal grabbed his first title of the season at the Italian Open last week with a statement victory over world No.1 Novak Djokovic, after three semifinal exits in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid.

“In Rome, I took a leap forward and it seems that I have consolidated it,” Nadal said during a press conference.

“I am playing well, training well, I am happy, enjoying the day to day, something that did not happen to me after Indian Wells, which I found difficult to enjoy, especially due to the successive physical problems that led me to have a slump,” he added.

The world No.2 said that the clay-court season had been positive because he noticed a gradual evolution that led him to clinch his first clay title this year, an odd situation for the king of clay.

“I do not like to compare but I think between the start of the clay season and now. The feelings are completely different, my inner energy, the way I move on the court and hit the ball is different,” he added.

Nadal stressed on having regained his inner energy that he claimed he had lost after the 2019 Indian Wells, where he withdrew from his semi-final match against Switzerland’s Roger Federer with a knee injury.

“When it is hard for you to recover from an injury, mentally, when hitting the ball you do not feel the same strength. But it has been a while since I recovered,” he continued.

He acknowledged that he did not prepare well for the clay season-opening Monte Carlo, and also blamed it on physical problems.

He was not playing well in the early matches at the Barcelona Open either and had a slump at the semifinals of the Madrid Open, where he was knocked out by Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Although he admitted he did not play “particularly well,” he appreciated reaching the semifinals in each of those tournaments.

“I did not win, but it was not a disaster,” he stressed.

Nadal gave his best performance in Rome with his 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 win over Djokovic, and now he intends to repeat the victory at the French Open, where he is the top favorite on the men's side.

"The most positive thing is that I have had the humility to appreciate the small improvements and that has allowed me to move higher," he concluded.EFE

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