Roland Garros and that ugly feeling of being orphaned by the absence of Rafael Nadal


The passage of time is relentless: 18 years and 14 titles later, the Spaniard will miss his favorite Grand Slam for the first time.

There are phrases that, over the years, cease to be obvious and take on a real dimension of the profound truth they contain. The Cuban Pablo Milanés sang it: “Time passes and we are getting old”. It seemed simple, it seemed like a platitude, but those eight words, in reality, are not so obvious and they apply perfectly to the feeling that goes through everyone, or almost everyone, in these hours. Roland Garroshours before the start of a new edition of the second Grand Slam of this 2023.

It’s that tennis, with the Swiss Roger Federer and with the spanish Rafael Nadal, did not make believe that time not only did not pass, but that these two phenomena made them better. And we, happily, enjoyed how the passage of time turned them into immortal geniuses.

Today, however, Paris, tennis and we see how that magical illusion of immortality is fading into this sad reality. We hardly accept that Federer is no longer on the tour. And now, after 18 years, We have to accept that Nadal, its greatest winner, its owner, will not be in Paris either. and he is missed.

All Nadal’s titles at Roland Garros. Photo: AFP

And if it shakes us that ugly orphan feelingIt is worth putting yourself in Rafa’s shoes for a minute, who from 2005 to 2022 was always present in the Bois de Boulogne. What will go through his head? What will he feel when he watches it on TV? It’s something he never did in the last 18 years. They were 18 years in which he won 112 games and barely suffered three defeats -Swede Robin Soderling, in 2009, and Serbian Novak Djokovic, in 2015 and 2021, his only executioners-. In that period, we already know, he was crowned 14 times. A fabulous record that only Rafael Nadal could take away from Rafael Nadal of the previous year.

Of course, this does not take the Spaniard by surprise, who no longer even appears in the top ten of the world ranking and will fall apart in a couple of weeks. There are already many years of injuries and discomfortthat they have been checking him out and that they questioned not only the possibility that he could win once again, but that he could simply compete.

For this reason, it will be quite a challenge and an effort not to live this edition with a melancholic tinge, because its absence is nothing more and nothing less than the passing of time. It is the absence prior to the farewell. And hurts.

Times of change

Novak Djokovic is looking for his second Grand Slam of the year.  Photo: AP

Novak Djokovic is looking for his second Grand Slam of the year. Photo: AP

It is enough to review the draw to take a greater dimension that we are living a moment of transition in this Roland Garros 2023. As usual, and there are never surprises there, the main draw has 128 players. But There are only two that could repeat as champions: Djokovic, without the ideal shooting on slow courts but in search of his second Grand Slam title of the year, and an aged Stan Wawrinka. These are times of change.

While Nadal is longed for, the rest, by the way, renew their expectations. There are several who dream of raising the Cup of the Musketeers. It is that, without Rafa, the challenge looks a little less extreme for those who intend to become the new heroes on the sacred brick dust of Paris. Who prevents Carlos Alcaraz, for example, already as the precocious number one in the world, from dreaming of the madness of proclaiming himself “the heir to the throne”? which is vacant

Carlos Alcaraz, the successor to Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros?  Photo: Reuters

Carlos Alcaraz, the successor to Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros? Photo: Reuters

Of course, it will help Alcaraz and all those who come from behind to study the recent past. Federer and Nadal showed us that in the future there is improvement, hope and illusion. It is a message that the new generation should embrace. Not everything is immediate. Although there is something that will be eternal. And, perhaps, unchangeable. Nadal will forever be the supreme king and the region of Roland Garros will forever be his sacred land.

Paris France. Special for Clarion.

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2023-05-27 09:00:24
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