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Rafael Nadal ready to “try everything” to reach the top of Roland-Garros | Tennis

Rafael Nadal says he has reached the point where he must let go of his fear of injury and “try everything” to see if he will be able to perform at the highest level between now and Roland Garros.

On Thursday afternoon, Nadal’s competitive spirit guided him to a tight 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Belgian qualifier Zizou Bergs in the first round of the Italian Open. He will now face an important test against seventh seed Hubert Hurkacz in the second round.

“(Now) comes the moment where I have to try, I have to do everything,” the Spaniard said. “If something happens, something happens. It’s the truth. It’s not like Madrid, it’s not like Barcelona, ​​especially since I need to analyze how things are improving, to explore if I am able to adapt all these things to the new weeks .

“But it’s over and we are in Rome. I have Roland Garros in only two and a half weeks, so…the time comes where I have to prove that I am capable of pushing my body to the limit that I have to push to feel ready for what’s to come. come.

As Nadal faced Bergs, a 24-year-old ranked No. 108 in the world and known for his significant presence on TikTok, he struggled to find his level from the start. With the 37-year-old’s unforced error count rapidly increasing and him extremely hesitant behind the baseline, Bergs went into the biggest match of his career determined to take control of as many rallies as possible by attacking his opponent’s forehand and closing the score. net.

Nadal was not satisfied with his performance despite winning in Italy. Photo: Ciro De Luca/NurPhoto/Shutterstock

In just his third Masters 1000 match, Bergs showed that he is more than capable of competing on the ATP Tour. However, over the course of three sets, Nadal was more consistent and found a way to produce his best tennis in important moments.

“Today was not a good match for me,” he said. “I didn’t play the way I really think I can play and the way I need to play. I was able to find a way to win, and it gave me the chance to play again in two days, to show myself, especially since I can do it much better than today.

After the match, Nadal explained that during the operation he underwent last year, part of his psoas (hip) tendon was removed and that he is still “adapting the muscles to the configuration of the hip”. But with the clay court season with its last two major events, the Italian Open and Roland Garros, it is out of time.

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“I’m not just talking about Roland Garros,” said the 14-time French Open champion. “I’m talking about the next match. I need to lose this fear. Games like today help. At times I was going faster. Some times no. I have to get used to this, take this risk. This is the time to (make) this happen. If something is wrong, we will accept it. But now is the time to push. I feel more ready to try it than before.

Meanwhile, Naomi Osaka took another significant step in her comeback with one of her biggest results of the year. In slow and difficult conditions, the 26-year-old steadily defeated 19th seed Marta Kostyuk 6-3, 6-2 to notch her first career top-20 victory on clay and reach the third round at Rome.