‘You canÈt let yourself be intimidated by Nadal’
Originally published on 30/05/15
En route to his second French Open title Nadal was given one of his toughest tests by Paul-Henri Mathieu. The Frenchman kept Nadal on court for nearly five hours before losing 5-7 6-4 6-4 6-4.
The length of the third-round match was a reflection of how tight the games were and how hard the players had to work. Mathieu, who attacked Nadal’s backhand throughout, said: “There was an intensity about the match that was hard to maintain, both mentally and physically. There wasn’t one moment when I felt him relax. It’s hard to keep that up over five hours.
“Against Nadal you tend to try to force the pace. I tried to be more patient. If I had won the fourth set I would have been up for the fifth set physically. You can’t let yourself be intimidated by him. That’s where he is very strong. You need to show you’re ready to fight, because he has often won matches even before he’s gone on court.”
Lleyton Hewitt pushed Nadal hard in the next round, also taking him to four sets, but the Spaniard was not to be denied. He eventually beat Federer 1-6 6-1 6-4 7-6(4) in the final.
Nadal's route to the 2006 French Open title
R1 Robin Soderling (SWE) 6-2 7-5 6-1
R2 Kevin Kim (USA) 6-2 6-1 6-4
R3 Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA) 5-7 6-4 6-4 6-4
R4 Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) 6-2 5-7 6-4 6-2
QF Novak Djokovic (SRB) 6-4 6-4 RET
SF Ivan Ljubicic (CRO) 6-4 6-2 7-6(7)
F Roger Federer (SUI) 1-6 6-1 6-4 7-6(4)
This is an excerpt from "Ma9nifique" in tennishead Volume 6 Issue 2. As Rafael Nadal attempts 'La Decima' in Paris, we recall the Spaniard's nine Roland Garros victories and speak to some of the men who failed to stop him. To read the full article, subscribe to the magazine today or download the latest digital magazine, available on Apple and Android devices.