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Barcelona“I would rather lose the final if they gave me a new foot in return. The pain I suffer every day changes your life. When I finish my career I will have a life ahead of me and I would like to enjoy it, playing sports with friends, for example. That’s a mystery right now. ” Rafa Nadal silenced Roland Garros when he uttered this phrase, after reaching the final of his favorite Grand Slam, the one in Paris. The future of the manacorí, who turned 36 on Friday, has been talked about for months. Injuries make his cheek and foot injury, the most delicate, forces him to play infiltrated in almost every game. That’s why every time a tournament is played, the public wonders if this will be the last time they will see it live.

Rafa Nadal, the man with the most Grand Slams in history in history, 21, has earned the right to decide his future. He also owns his silences, and has so far said nothing in public. From their environment, however, they admit that withdrawal may be imminent. And it is not ruled out, even, that he can say goodbye to the track after the final. But they are just speculations. The only certainty is that no matter what happens in Paris, Nadal will take a break and miss the Wimbledon tournament. The rest is a mystery.

Nadal has lived every Roland Garros game as if it were his last

Around the Manacor tennis player, they recognize that it is becoming more and more difficult for him to compete at the highest level. Not because he lost his fitness, but because of the pain. Nobody knows what would have happened if in the semi-finals Alexander Zverev, retired due to injury at the end of the second set after slipping and twisting his ankle, could have finished the game normally. It is no coincidence, then, that every high-voltage match at this Roland Garros has had a majestic preview, as if there were fears that this might have been the last time he played Philippe Chatrier. It happened before the quarterfinals, against Novak Djokovic, and before the semifinals against Zverev. “Winning is beautiful, it gives you a momentary adrenaline rush. But life is more important than any title “, he said before the final in which he will face, curiously, a student from his academy: the Norwegian Casper Ruud (3pm, Eurosport).

This is the first time Ruud has reached a Grand Slam final. He is a 23-year-old clay specialist who has won 11 ATP titles so far but had not been able to make it past the round of 16 in the top-tier tournaments. Beyond the curiosity of being a Christmas student, the lack of experience can condition him in the game, especially against a rival who has won the 13 finals he has played in Paris: against Mariano Puerta (2005), Roger Federer ( 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2011), Robin Soderling (2010), Novak Djokovic (2012, 2014 and 2020), David Ferrer (2013), Stanislas Wawrinka (2017) and Dominic Thiem (2018 and 2019).

By contrast, the 13-year difference is in Ruud’s favor. Although the Norwegian’s progression has been meteoric – he has gone from 150 in the rankings, when he entered the academy, to the current 8 – there is some unanimity in pointing out Christmas as the big favorite … as long as the chronic necrosis that suffer in the foot does not start to hurt halfway through the game. In the most immediate retina, the images of the Rome tournament, in which he played the last set of the round of 16 match against Denis Shapovalov totally lame. Obviously, he ended up losing.

Rafa Nadal: 113 games, 110 wins and only 3 defeats at Roland Garros

The romance between Rafa Nadal and Roland Garros began in 2005, the year he made his debut in the French tournament and rose to victory. Since then, he has never missed an appointment. He has played in all editions, played 113 games and won 110, with a direct profit of prizes in excess of 23 million euros. He has only lost three matches. In 2009 against Robin Soderling in the round of 16 and in 2015 and in 2021 against Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals and semi-finals, respectively. The other edition in which he did not win, in 2016, does not count as a defeat: he retired due to injury before facing Marcel Granollers in the last 16.

The expectation generated by Rafa Nadal is maximum. Just look at what happened in the semifinals. While in his duel against Zverev there was not a single needle in the stands, in the other semifinal between Ruud and Martin Cilic there was not a third of the capacity. In the end, of course, Philippe Chatrier will be full again like an egg. No one will be missing, not even King Philip VI. Who knows if it will be the last time they will see him play.

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