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Monfils on Nadal: “He’s Our Legend”

Posted by Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Tuesday May 28, 2024

Ahead of his Monday night session in Paris, the French legend Gael Monfils needed to take a nap. But before he could do that, he had to watch the Clay King on Chatrier.

Tennis Express

The 37-year-old, who defeated Thiago Seyboth Wild on Monday, said it was important to watch Nadal as he faced Alexander Zverev on Court Philippe-Chatrier for one main reason: Nadal is everyone’s legend.

“It is important, because he is our legend,” said Monfils. β€œHe is everybody’s legend. You are back. It’s impossible not to look at him, it’s impossible. When I say it’s important, it’s more than that. I know I love him no matter what happens.”

Nadal showed his best form, but still lost to Zverev, 6-3, 7-6, 6-3, on Monday. After the match, he told the crowd in an emotional speech that he was not sure if he had played his last match at Roland-Garros.

“The emotions I’ve had on this amazing court throughout my tennis career are unbelievable,” said Nadal. “I never dreamed that I would be here at almost 38 years old, with all the success I’ve had here, winning so many times – it’s something I never dreamed of.

“For me, it is difficult to say what will happen in the future. It’s a big percentage that I won’t return to Roland-Garros, but I can’t say 100 percent. I enjoy playing here, I like traveling with my family, and my body feels a little better than it did two months ago.”

Monfils said he was happy to see the King of Clay play so well in Paris, and he believes the Spanish player can have an impact at the Olympic Games in Paris this summer.

“When I say it’s important, it’s because we all respect him a lot even though we’re not friends with him. He is the king of the clay courts. He’s back, he’s playing. It’s really worth watching.

Monfils, who won his 122nd Grand Slam title to become the French all-time champion on Monday, was more impressed with Nadal’s forehand.

“I was happy because he was hitting the best,” he said. “He’s not finished yet. He was pushed, but he put it right in the front. But maybe in two months…

‘Well, I thought it was fun to watch. I was happy to watch him.”

And he credited Zverev for having the mental fortitude to close out the match in straight sets against a version of Nadal that would have beaten most players in the match.

“Well done to him,” she said. “Because today Rafa, what Rafa showed us today, you know, he could have beaten many more in the race, many more.

Zverev has been impressed with Nadal’s progress over the past few weeks.

“Obviously there is uncertainty as to whether he will return to play next year,” he said. “He will definitely come back to the Olympics. But generally, at Roland Garros, there is obviously uncertainty.

“I think the improvement he’s made over the last few months and just the difference in the level he played today compared to his last tournaments was unbelievable. I felt like it was a great game.”

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