Thousands watch as Nadal loosens his grip

Henry

Rafael Nadal had thousands of tennis fans on their feet when he let loose at Roland-Garros on Monday.

The “king of clay” is a legend in Paris where he has already walked away with the French Open title 14 times in his illustrious career.

But these days there is an injury cloud hanging over the Spaniard’s head and at the age of 37, this year’s tournament may be his last racquet swing session in the French capital.

He missed last year’s tournament with a hip injury.

“It will be the first time in years that I am not in Paris, at a tournament that means an incredible amount to me. Still, Roland-Garros will always be Roland-Garros. It doesn’t matter if I’m there or not,” Nadal said at the time.

But if one looks and listens to Monday’s applause, it is clear that the Spanish matador provides more momentum when he hits in Paris.

Cries of “Rafa, Rafa!” echoed across the seats of the Philippe-Chatrier court and every dear stroke was loudly applauded.

The Spaniard won the French Open in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and in 2022.

Martina Navratilova earlier praised him for his dedication.

“One day people will write books about your career to try to encourage others to be like you. I have infinite respect for you and I love watching you play. In fact, I wish that you would never retire, because then you might win 30 titles at Roland-Garros,” said the tennis legend of Nadal.