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I am ready for French Open challenge: Rafael Nadal

Despite not having won any clay court titles this season, nine-time champ Nadal believes he is a contender at Paris tourney

Paris: Rafael Nadal insisted yesterday that his decade-long experience of playing at the French Open will make him a serious contender for a 10th title at Roland Garros despite being widely written off.

Spanish tennis ace Rafael Nadal takes part in a training session at the Roland Garros Stadium in Paris yesterday. PIC/AFP
Spanish tennis ace Rafael Nadal takes part in a training session at the Roland Garros Stadium in Paris yesterday. PIC/AFP

The 28-year-old Spaniard, who made his debut in Paris back in 2005 sweeping all before him on the way to the first of nine titles in the French capital, is only seeded six this year, a legacy of a relatively poor claycourt season.

But defending champion Nadal believes that the low expectations may count in his favour when the tournament gets underway tomorrow.

“I don’t need to lie to create better expectations or to let you or the people know that I am in one way or I am in the other way. I am being honest. When I say I don’t know what’s gonna happen, I really don’t know what’s gonna happen,” said Nadal, whose record in Paris reads 66 wins and just one loss.

“That doesn’t mean that I don’t have confidence in myself to try to be ready for it. I have to think that I am ready. My last couple of weeks have been much more positive than what the results said. I am gonna try to put my game in a position that’s gonna give me the chance. If I am able to do it, I have enough experience here.”

After winning a ninth French Open in 2014, Nadal was hit by a series of injuries as well as a bout of appendicitis. He has just one title in 2015 — on clay in Buenos Aires — and enters Paris without a European clay court trophy for the first time in 10 years.

Come what may over the next two weeks, Nadal says his major target is to stay pain-free unlike 2014 where injury sidelined him for virtually the entire second half of the season.

“It’s important for me to have a full season playing tennis. It’s important to try to keep playing in the season with no injuries, and we will see where we finish and how I finish,” he said.

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