20-time Major champion Rafael Nadal led the field at the last Masters 1000 event last year in Paris. After the 13th crown at Roland Garros, Nadal was not sure if he would compete in the Paris Masters and the ATP Finals. Still, he doesn’t. 2 of the world decided to participate in the Masters 1000 event in the French capital, in search of one of the rare notable titles that were missing from his rich collection. Rafa made his Paris debut in 2007, reaching the final but winning just four matches against David Nalbandian to settle for runner-up. Suffering from many injuries in the months after the US Open over the years, Nadal was never the favorite on an indoor hard court, reaching three more semi-finals in Paris but never again challenging for the title. In 2019, Rafa advanced to the last four following a win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga before retiring with an abdominal injury ahead of the Denis Shapovalov clash, still earning valuable points in the battle for no.1 against Novak Djokovic. After a proper and deserved break, Rafa sought back-to-back crowns in the French capital last November following the historic success of Roland Garros, positioning himself as the top seed when defending champion Novak Djokovic decided to skip Paris. Nadal played just five tournaments in 2020 before Paris, winning two ATP crowns at Acapulco and Roland Garros. Spending six months at home, Nadal stayed off the tennis court in March and April, starting practice in May and not liking the conditions in New York ahead of Cincinnati and the US Open. The Spaniard skipped both events, pocketing 2000 points for the 2019 US Open title and setting his sights on Rome and Roland Garros.
Rafa is training intensely
John McEnroe has hailed Rafael Nadal as the greatest fighter in the history of the game, as he suggested youngsters need to look to the Spaniard as an example of what it takes to be a champion. “I’ve never seen anyone like him,” McEnroe told Tennis365 in an exclusive interview. “I thought Jimmy Connors tried hard until I saw Rafael Nadal, this is insane. And that’s the greatest quality he has, by far. “I mean, the guy’s an unbelievable player, we all know that. But the fact that he can go out there and give that type of effort, you know, match in and match out, game in and game out, is something that people aspire to, but it’s very difficult to do. Otherwise, everyone would do it. I mean, you just say, well go to Nick Kyrgios and say ‘go out and give an effort, you’ll be No 2, No 3 in the world. Well, if it was that easy, I guess he would do it. But you know, for him, it isn’t.”