as the master of the place, Rafael Nadal extinguishes the ardor of Corentin Moutet

As a child, Corentin Moutet fell asleep in Rafael Nadal’s pajama shirt, as he confessed to reporters, after his victory in the first round of Roland-Garros. On Wednesday, May 25, when the good children go to bed, the 23-year-old Frenchman had decided not to be lulled by his childhood idol at the Philippe-Chatrier court. Before meeting the master of the house, a thirteen-time winner, we must remind you that the little left-hander (1.75 m) with a velvet leg claimed not to have the trouilometer at zero: “I’m not afraid of anything. I’m going to win, I’m a competitor, that’s my job.”

Sent in three sets (6-3, 6-1, 6-4) by the Spaniard, the gala evening, unfortunately, came at the end of the Parisian, as for the 15,000 spectators. For the second year in a row, the tournament is hosting evening sessions at the Central (from 23 to 1er June), which give rise to a separate box office. After a 2021 release damaged by the camera and after the restrictive measurements imposed by the health situation, this time the public is at stake, and once is not customary, even in the locker rooms.

The Philippe-Chatrier track, in Roland-Garros, during the second lap between Rafael Nadal and Corentin Moutet, in Paris, on May 25, 2022.

To warm up before the players entered the court, the tournament featured DJs – Etienne de Crécy, Yuksek and Jabberwocky, among others. “We want these evening sessions to be an event, a show. And let it become an unavoidable Parisian evening during these ten evenings “, excited Amélie Mauresmo, director of the tournament, during the presentation of the tournament in March. On Wednesday evening, La Fine Equipe did its best on the turntables, but the darkness of Paris did not allow Le Chatrier, with its roof folded, to catch fire.

Read on too Article reserved for our subscribers At Roland-Garros, very confidential night sessions

Immerse yourself in the unknown

Neither does the script. This match was a dive into the unknown for the current 139i world champion, who had won the right to face the Spaniard in the second round by eliminating another winner of the tournament on Monday, the returning Swiss Stan Wawrinka (2015). Moutet had never faced the Spaniard before, he hadn’t even kicked the ball with him in training. Embarrassed for three months by a tendinitis in his wrist, the Frenchman had landed at Porte d’Auteuil with, for all the preparation on the crushed brick, two fleeting appearances in the Challenger (second division of the circuit).

Frenchman Corentin Moutet faces Rafael Nadal at the Philppe-Chatrier track in Roland-Garros on May 25, 2022.

Also for Spanish, this edition is one of those where it is presented with less certainty. No title this year in his favorite area and, for the first time since 2004, no Masters 1000 final in these European lands that have long since become his (Monte-Carlo, Madrid, Rome).

After a thunderous return earlier this year, a victory at the Australian Open is synonymous with 21i record Grand Slam title and a run of 21 straight wins, the enchanted parenthesis closed abruptly. A rib injury in Indian Wells in early March forced him to take it easy until the Madrid tournament, where, for the first time, he surrendered to his compatriot and announced his successor, Carlos Alcaraz. , in the quarterfinals. The following week, in Rome, he finished his round of 16 grimacing and limping against Denis Shapovalov.

At almost 36 years old (he will celebrate them on June 3), Nadal is once again overwhelmed by this evil that has been eating his left foot since 2005. “I am not injured … I live with an injury [le syndrome de Muller-Weiss]he corrected the media after his defeat against the Canadian. There is nothing new. There are many days when I can’t train normally. It’s a pain that comes and goes. Sometimes stronger, sometimes less. »

The former world number one has learned to deal with this pain that torments him a little more every day, but it no longer seems far from the breaking point. Because she ruins her day-to-day life far beyond the tennis courts. “There will come a time when my head will stop, because the pain takes away my pleasure. Not just for tennis, in life. »

Also read the interview: Article reserved for our subscribers Rafael Nadal: “I play with pain”

“I stop making predictions about Christmas”

On Monday, all eyes were fixed on his blue duck shoes for his entry into the race against Australian Jordan Thompson. The Mallorcan’s movements and score (6-2, 6-2, 6-2) to sign his 106i the victory at Roland Garros – a record in a Grand Slam promotion so far in the hands of Roger Federer (105 at Wimbledon) – encouraged optimism.

On Wednesday, under the watchful eye of his uncle Toni, adviser to Canadian Felix Auger Aliassime, the Spaniard was still a long way from settling. But he has such a margin over most of his opponents that a Christmas, even with 75% of his chances, is still too dangerous a player.

The new director of the Paris Grand Slam, Amélie Mauresmo, does not remove the Spaniard from the list of candidates for the Musketeers’ Cup: “I remember 2020. The conditions of the game were supposed to be interrupted, with falling and rain, clay, (…) however, he did not drop any thirst. I stop making predictions about Christmas, she said, questioned on the sidelines of the men’s table favorites draw for this 2022 edition. When he is here, most of the time, things are going very well for him. »

“It simply came to our notice then. The question is not whether he will disappear, but whether he is too strong or not, whether he allows me to play with real chances of winning or not. said the interested party on the eve of his entry into the race. And if you didn’t believe me, I probably wouldn’t be here. » Sincere conviction or over-optimism? The rest of the tournament will tell.

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