Roland Garros: “Nadal is the good old boy now”

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Philippe Bouin, historical journalist from ‘L’Quip’, reflects on the change in attitude of the French public towards the man seeking his 14th title

Nadal p.  appreciated the support of
Nadal praised the public’s support.Jean-François BadiasAP

There was a time, not long ago, when Roland Garros fans didn’t feel special appreciation for Rafael Nadal. “The people of Paris are quite stupid. The French are outraged by a Spaniard’s victory,” his uncle Toni, then also his coach, came to say after his first three defeats at these tracks against Robin Soderling. Eighth of 2009.

That game had many fans who celebrated the stumbling block in Philippe-Chatier, a player who had chained and threatened three consecutive titles, as has been the case for a long time. sign theFrench poverty suffered, the Spanish tradition on some tracks in which Arantex Sánchez Vicario, Carlos Moy, Albert Costa and Juan Carlos Ferrero had won consecutively, without the need to go back to the victories of Manolo Santana and Anders Gimeno. Which is now half a century old. “The attitude of the French public towards Rafa has changed because the role he played in the great spectacle of tennis has also changed. When he arrived, fans saw him as a bad boy who wanted to hurt the Frenchman, But in addition, his beloved mascot: Roger Federer”, Philippe Bouin, historical expert at the newspaper L’Aquipe, which has covered more than a hundred Grand Slam tournaments, tells this newspaper.

“Now it is the old king, wounded, wounded, near the end, who has to fight with his back against the wall, in order to survive, against ambitious, arrogant bad guys like Novak Djokovic, the new Lendl.” Things have changed, as Bouin explains. And he has done it in a radical way this year, as can be seen against Djokovic, where the central defender was clearly in favor of the Spaniard, which he encouraged consistently, while venting his sense of disapproval towards the Serbian player. Not hiding.

Support against Djokovic

Journalist Sasa Ozmo wrote on Twitter, “The public has contributed greatly to getting the set going. 99.9% of those in attendance supported her and raised her in critical moments, helping her find energy.” , referring to the fourth quarter, where noelle He was broken and there were two balls in the tiebreaker to take the match to fifth place.

“In the beginning, another factor was working against him: physique. The French artist loved Federer, and he was seen as a boxer, a kind of bully. His tank top shoved his shoulders. Made twice as big.” Compared to his. His jump over the net felt like an intimidation tactic. He was like Ray Sugar Leonard vs Mike Tyson.”Boine continues. “His muscles hid his talent.”

The 13-time champion of the tournament could be seen very emotional in the interviews that Marion Bartoli did on the pitch after the game, repeatedly thanking the support from the stands. “They probably know that I won’t be here for many more years,” he later told a news conference, with a sense of sadness that has characterized his messages lately.

“I think over the years all these prejudices against Nadal, including the always unfounded suspicions of doping, because of his true personality, his naturalness, his kindness to everyone, have disappeared. I think now people are of Nadal. Respect. Even more than his style, his money and his fame, the fact is that, unlike Djokovic, he’s never changed. He’s the good old boy of tennis now. And now that Federer is gone, Nadal the Frenchman is the new mascot of the masses, without forgetting that he has won quite a few titles here”, concluded Bouin.

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