Rafa Nadal’s bittersweet return to Roland Garros: he falls in the first round to the tears of his wife and son

It has not been. The Mallorcan tennis player returned this Monday to the clay court that has brought him glory up to 14 times with the intention of biting the Parisian trophy again, but his injury has taken its toll and he has fallen to Alexander Zverev (6-3, 7-6(4) and 6-3), the fourth in the world ranking, which he has faced tooth and nail. His wife and his son, who watched the game from the stands along with the rest of the family and technical team, have become the Manacorí’s best support after this unexpected blow.

It had been 772 days Rafael Nadal without setting foot at Roland Garrós, since June 5, 2022, when he was proclaimed champion for the fourteenth time against the very young Casper Ruud. The one from Mallorca faced this return with the hope of playing in Paris, for the first time, under the gaze of his son, who this year has become his father’s number one fan. For his part, Mery Perelló The match continued with visible suffering, as did the athlete’s sister (Maribel) and mother (Ana María Parera). Faced with Rafa’s defeat, no one has been able to avoid tears.

At 37 years old, injuries have taken their toll on Rafa, who has been retired from the circuit for more than 12 months due to a problem with the iliopsoas in his left leg. He underwent surgery last June at the Teknon Clinic in Barcelona, ​​where they also treated an old labral injury in his left hip. His return to the ‘rings’ tastes like a farewell and although it was already offered to him at the Madrid Open Tennis on May 1, he did not want to close the doors in Paris: “As you can imagine, we had something planned for him. But he wants to leave the door open, so we won’t pressure him to do anything. It’s your decision whether you want to have a proper ceremony or a proper goodbye and farewell. So we won’t do it this year,” the organization revealed.

Nor the Paris Olympic Games, where he wants to participate in doubles with Carlos Alcaraz: “They motivate me. This will be a new opportunity and I hope to be well prepared. We can make a good couple (with Alcaraz) and aspire to nice things. Afterwards of the Games, I have to see how I am in terms of motivation, physicality and level of tennis to see if it makes sense to continue playing. He rules out, however, Wimbledon: “It seems difficult for me to go. I don’t think it is appropriate to make a transition from grass to dirt when the Games are on dirt. It is not a positive idea. I had the dream of playing at Roland Garros and I have felt competitive, but it has not been enough.

Let us remember that on May 1, Nadal said goodbye to the Caja Mágica in Madrid after reaching the round of 16 against Jiri Lehecka. He was honored on the Manolo Santana court before an audience dedicated to the rhythm of the soundtrack of ‘Gladiator’, Nadal’s favorite. “I can only thank everyone who has helped me in my career at some point. It’s not over yet but it is here. It is a gift that you have given for 21 years. Madrid has been more important to me than a Grand Slam. The emotions of Madrid stay with me forever,” he said excitedly.

This Monday, the farewell in Paris was a ‘see you later’: “I want to say thank you, the energy I have felt has been incredible. I don’t know if this is the last time I will be here. I can’t say 100%. But if it is the last time I have enjoyed it. The people have been incredible and it is difficult to describe in words the love I have felt.”