Rafael Nadal knows he will need to raise his game against Novak Djokovic on Sunday if he is to lift an incredible 13th Roland Garros title.
The Spanish superstar, speaking after he beat Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-3, 7-6(0) in the semi-finals, said, “The only thing I know is to play against Novak, I need to play my best. Without playing my best tennis, [the] situation is very difficult. I know that it’s a court that I have been playing well on for such a long time, so that helps. But at the same time, he has an amazing record here too. [He’s] one of the toughest opponents possible.
“But I am here to keep trying my best. I like to play in this scenario. I know I have to make a step forward. I think I [took] one today. But for Sunday, it’s not enough. I need to make another one. That’s what I’m looking for. I’m going to work hard to try to make that happen.”
Nadal, who is bidding to capture a record-equalling 20th Grand Slam championship crown, said he was happy with his performance over Schwartzman, who’d won their last match at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome.
“I am super happy about the match,” said Nadal. “[It has] been an important victory for me against a very tough player. To win against Diego, you have to work a lot and you have to play well for such a long time. That’s what I did today. I think I played solid.
“I played with the right determination in most moments of the match. Especially in the tie-break, I finished the match playing well. I needed to be a little bit more aggressive – a little bit – in half of the third set, when I had the score in my favour.”
But the 34-year-old also admitted, “You can’t pretend to be in a final of Roland Garros without suffering. That’s what happened there [at 5-5 in the third set].
“To believe that you can keep doing this kind of stuff, you need to win matches, you need to go through this process again. Winning these kind of matches; going through these moments [and] playing that aggressively with the forehand, knowing that you can have success like this, make me feel positive and make me feel confident.”
Nadal will meet World No. 1 Djokovic, the 2016 Roland Garros champion, for the 56th time on Sunday.