By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) – Rafa Nadal will have to get used to new surroundings as his favourite hunting ground, the court Philippe Chatrier, has been revamped ahead of the May 26-June 9 French Open.
The Spaniard, chasing a record-extending 12th French Open title, has already practiced on the new main court, which has been extended by 10 metres and features new seats before getting a retractable roof in 2020.
But he is not bothered by the changes after court Philippe Chatrier was 80% rebuilt.
“The feeling with the ball, the feeling with the court, personally I had the same feeling on court. No, no, I don’t see a difference in terms of game experience,” Nadal told reporters on Friday.
“I think the wind is going the same way, and the feeling on court is exactly the same. Then of course it is a different court, and especially is a little bit different looking from behind the royal (officials’) box. For me, that’s the main difference.”
Nadal had reason to be concerned after failing to win clay court titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona or Madrid, but he got back to winning ways just in time for Roland Garros when he prevailed at the Italian Open last week.
He now heads into his first round against a qualifier with a positive mindset.
“I feel myself playing well, being honest, and my goal is just to keep playing at that level, because these things always that I can improve, small things, and just working on small things,” the second seed explained.
“But in general terms, it is just about being healthy, main thing, and then just compete well and be fresh mentally and physically.”
A usually slow starter at Roland Garros, Nadal is expected to face two qualifiers in the first two rounds and things should only get really tough in the semi-finals, where he could face either Roger Federer or Stefanos Tsitsipas.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Catherine Evans)