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Nadal heads to Roland Garros with confidence and a clear mind

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Rafael Nadal

Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May 16, 2021 Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates with the trophy after winning his final match against Serbia’s Novak Djokovic REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

After warming up for the French Open in style by beating world number one Novak Djokovic in the Rome Masters final on Sunday, Rafa Nadal said he is heading to Rolland Garros with confidence and a clear mind in search of a 21st Grand Slam title.

Nadal, 34, beat the Serb 7-5 1-6 6-3 to claim a record-extending 10th ATP Masters 1000 title in Rome and felt his game improved through the week.

Nadal, who suffered quarterfinal exits at Masters 1000 events in Monte-Carlo and Madrid, said he would rest for a couple of days back home before heading to Paris for his title defense.

“I think I can work in a couple of things that I can do a little bit better or I can keep confirming that I am on the way,” he told reporters on Sunday.

“I think I have been improving this week, but I need to keep going with that improvement, because when you improve and you’re able to do it every day for longer time, then you feel more confident and more safe.

“So I just need to keep going. I know what I need to work (on) for the next couple of weeks, and I (am) going to do it.”

Victory in Rome saw Nadal equal Djokovic’s tally of 36 ATP Masters 1000 trophies but it was not all plain sailing, the Spaniard having to save two match points against Canadian Denis Shapovalov in the third round.

“The 10th, I really wanted this 10th here in Rome. It was one of the first important titles that I won in my career,” Nadal said. “After achieving 10 in Roland Garros, 10 in Monte-Carlo, 10 in Barcelona, I really wanted this one.

“I went through a lot of things during the week. Some positive, some great moments, some lucky moments, suffering moments. At the end I think I played a very solid week of tennis, it’s the right moment to win an important title.”


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