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"Rafael Nadal is also human and he gets nervous" - Francisco Roig

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal
ANALYST
Modified 10 Oct 2020, 23:59 IST
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Rafael Nadal is into his 13th French Open final, after beating Diego Schwartzman in the semifinals in straight sets. But the match wasn’t as straightforward as the 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 scoreline suggests; Nadal took more than three hours to douse the challenge of the Argentine.

There were several long and grueling exchanges throughout the encounter, which consumed a lot of time and almost pushed the Mallorcan to his limit.

Nadal’s alternate coach Francisco Roig recently gave his thoughts to El Larguero about the World No. 2's struggles while closing out Schwartzman. Roig also briefly discussed the challenge that Novak Djokovic would pose to Rafael Nadal in Sunday’s final, while asserting that the Mallorcan wasn’t thinking too much about matching Roger Federer’s record tally of 20 Grand Slam titles.

Francisco Roig opens up about Rafael Nadal's chances against Novak Djokovic

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal is yet to drop a set at Roland Garros this year, but he hasn't quite been at his imperious best so far. Both Jannik Sinner and Diego Schwartzman gave the 12-time French Open champion a tough fight, even though they lost in straight sets.

Francisco Roig admitted that his ward experienced a bout of nerves towards the end of the match against Diego Schwartzman.

“Rafa played a very good game, although it is true that as he said it took him a long time to close the game,” Roig said. “He's also human and he gets nervous.”

Rafael Nadal and his camp will be hoping that he faces no such jitters when he takes on Novak Djokovic on Sunday. Even someone as great as Nadal will have to be at his very best to defeat the World No. 1 Djokovic.

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Rafael Nadal will take on Novak Djokovic in the final of the 2020 French Open
Rafael Nadal will take on Novak Djokovic in the final of the 2020 French Open

The Serb has been playing incredible tennis this year, and has shown no signs of slowing down even when injured (against Pablo Carreno Busta in the quarters). Roig is, therefore, mentally prepared for the prospect of Nadal facing a full-strength Novak Djokovic on Sunday.

"We have to expect the best (version of) Djokovic on Sunday,” Roig said. “He is the World No. 1 and a great player.”

Rafael Nadal, Federer and Djokovic are fighting to win tournaments: Francisco Roig

Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer
Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer
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With Rafael Nadal so close to matching Roger Federer’s Grand Slam record, many believe the Spaniard is under a lot of pressure at the moment. But Roig insisted that Nadal is taking it one step at a time.

The 52-year-old explained that Rafael Nadal was well aware of the record, but wasn’t preoccupied with it. Instead, his main aim is to do his best to win the title.

“To match Federer in number of Grand Slams? They are things that need not even be mentioned,” Roig continued. "That he knows perfectly. He goes for the trophy and then we'll see the rest.”
Rafael Nadal will be looking to match Federer
Rafael Nadal will be looking to match Federer's record tally on Sunday

Lastly, Roig showered rich praise on the ‘Big 3’ and lauded their continued hunger for big titles. According to the Spaniard, the motivation levels of Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic are what make them such great champions.

“Nadal, Federer, and Djokovic are fighting to win tournaments,” Roig added. "Winning many times saturates but these champions never tire.”
Published 10 Oct 2020, 23:59 IST
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