“Felt More Cocooned”: Rafael Nadal Reflects on Playing in Front of a Smaller Crowd at French Open 2020
Spanish tennis superstar Rafael Nadal has said that going from the spectator-less Italian Open to a limited audience at the Roland-Garros this year made a huge difference.
The twenty-time Grand Slam champion has been known to feed off crowds, especially the traveling fans from his homeland. However, the lockdown and protocols around the pandemic thrust him into unfamiliar territory.
“Completely different feeling”: Rafael Nadal on playing French Open after Rome
“I’ll be completely honest. And, sad as it may sound, I came back from having played in Rome (Italian Open), which had been my first tournament without an audience. But at Roland-Garros, we had 1,000, in the final, we had 2,000 people and I think that from going to no-audience to 1,000 people, the feeling you get is completely different.”
The Spaniard further added, “And I think if we had gone from full house to this (Roland-Garros), it would (also) have been a completely different feeling.”
Nadal says having part of his family around at French Open was special
The Spaniard said more than the audience, what made his experience at the French Open special was that a part of his family was allowed to travel to the tournament. He said:
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“Of course, with the lockdown, going from zero (audience) to Roland-Garros, well this has been…of course you have some sort of atmosphere. But the huge difference is that at Roland-Garros, at the final, (a) part of my family could make it …a larger part of my team. And despite not everyone being there, I felt more cocooned. And obviously, Roland-Garros was perfect. In my wildest dreams, I wouldn’t have imagined this (experience at the French Open) to be so good.”
How crowds made a difference to Nadal’s game at Rome and Roland-Garros
The difference between playing to packed stands and without spectators was fairly evident in Nadal’s game across the two tournaments. He made the quarter-finals of the Rome event but couldn’t progress beyond as he fell in straight sets to Argentinian Diego Schwartzman.
Read More: WATCH: Rafael Nadal’s Top Shots of 2020
At Roland-Garros, Nadal’s game saw an almost magical lift as crowds came trickling into the stands. The Spaniard clinched his 13th straight French Open title and his 20th Major, tying him with Roger Federer on Slam count.