Rafael Nadal in the fog at Roland Garros

Rafael Nadal, with his trainer Carlos Moya (right) and his physical trainer, in training on Philippe-Chatrier court, on September 25.

Rafael Nadal is grumpy. This year, pandemic requires, Roland-Garros has been moved to the fall (from September 27 to October 11) and the Spaniard – who is aiming for a 13e sacre – struggles to recognize its cherished setting. “It’s true that it doesn’t really look like Roland-Garros”, certified the master of the place three days before his entry into the running, Monday, September 28, against Belarusian Egor Gerasimov (83e worldwide). Starting with the weather conditions, which further dampen the atmosphere of an edition already overwhelmed by health constraints.

Players who swap sunscreen for down jackets and leggings, shivering on their bench: the organizers would have done well without the image, after that of the stands sounding very hollow. Of course, even in its spring version, the rain is regularly invited to the tournament, but this year, the wind, the drizzle and the cold are announced as omnipresent as the masks in the alleys.

Read also Roland-Garros will ring hollow

The Mallorcan has reason to be worried. His lift, that weapon of mass destruction that makes him ruthless on earth, is not really hydrophilic. On the contrary, it is never as effective as when the sun hits and the bullet shoots. This year, he will have to deal with a heavy and wet clay, which generates lower rebounds. Including on the Philippe-Chatrier court with its new retractable roof. More exactly a “blanket”: the air circulates through it thanks to the side openings of its 11 outstretched wings, not completely transforming the center court into ground indoor.

“The ball is very heavy, it’s very slow, it’s cold”

The road to the final will not be a formality for anyone, even if our name is Nadal. On Friday, during his pre-tournament press conference, the defending champion seemed to have prepared for a hazardous tournament. For once, no false modesty on the part of the world number two, he who always places each of his opponents Porte d’Auteuil on an equal footing with him.

“The playing conditions are the most complicated I have ever experienced here. The ball is very heavy, it’s very slow, it’s cold, it makes things difficult for everyone. This morning, in training, it was 9 ° C ”, he grumbled, judging the “Somewhat extreme conditions for playing an outdoor tournament on land (…) .

There is not much that is going well in the eyes of the Spaniard. Not even the bullets

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