Even after 21 years as a touring pro, Rafael Nadal still finds it difficult to leave his home on the idyllic Spanish island of Mallorca. But this week’s journey to the Rolex Paris Masters is tougher than normal, with the 22-time major champion having to leave behind not only his wife, but, for the first time, their new-born son.
“It’s a different approach compared to usual,” Nadal said. “Always has been tough to leave home. It’s quite interesting how even after two or three weeks, to leave your son at home and not be able to see him, it’s interesting how even after only three weeks knowing him, you start missing him.
“All the changes are difficult in this life, and you need to adapt to it. It’s at the same time true that we are lucky today that, with technology, we can do video calls any time you want, so that always helps.”
As the Spaniard turns his attention to the indoor hard court event in the French capital, the World No. 2 looks to this season’s haul of four titles, including the Australian Open and Roland Garros crowns. Nadal is seeking his first Rolex Paris Masters title. Should the 36-year-old claim the title in Paris, he will make up ground on countryman Carlos Alcaraz in the battle for year-end No. 1 Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
But conditions in Paris bring their own challenges.
“You need to be confident,” Nadal said. “You need to play aggressive. It’s a surface that if you are not serving well, that’s the toughest part. You need to have automatic things like this [serve], because a couple of mistakes, it’s not like clay where you can have time to come back. If you lose your serve, then you are in big trouble.”
Boasting a 38-5 record in 2022, Nadal sets his sights on a strong finish to the year at the final ATP Masters 1000 event of the season before heading to Turin, Italy for the Nitto ATP Finals.
“It’s true that it has been an amazing year in terms of results,” Nadal said. “At the same time, it’s true that it has been a tough year in terms of injuries. Just excited to be here. I am here to try my best. Hopefully I will be ready for tomorrow, and I’m going to try to be competitive. Let’s see. I am excited about it.”
Nadal, seeded second, will play American Tommy Paul (1-0 Head2Head) in his opening match Wednesday.