PARIS (AP) — This time, about a month out, even Rafael Nadal had his doubts about what his chances were going to be for yet another French Open title.
He wasn’t alone. But that part was nothing new: Folks have been questioning him for years, wondering when his body would break down for good, when his impossible-to-believe run of success at Roland Garros would stop, when someone new would come along with the skill, strength and stamina to knock the crown off the King of Clay’s head.
This time, it was Nadal who was filled with real worry. He entered May without a title, the first season since 2004 that happened to him. He missed the end of last season with a bad right knee, needed offseason ankle surgery, then pulled out of a match in March because the knee flared up again. The health concerns, which long had cropped up, were now piling up.
“Too many issues the last 18 months. So that’s makes these last few weeks very, very special,” Nadal was able to say Sunday night.
“Mentally, I was down. Physically and mentally,” he said, rapping his right fingers on his temple. “But for me, I always put more attention on the mental side.”
All of that angst he spoke about seemed so…