Nothing can influence the focus for single-minded champion Rafael Nadal as the king of clay begins the quest for a record 14th trophy at the French Open on Sunday.

The third seed who has swept the last four editions at Roland Garros is adjusting – again – to the hotel lockdown life forced upon players in a country where serious COVID restrictions remain in effect.

With crowds for the first week will be capped at 1,000 for each of the three showcourts and players are restricted to either hotel room or courts – but must train at a n alternative venue on their non-match days – life will not be easy.

That’s all fine for the 20-time Grand Slam winner who turns 35 next week.

“(Isolation) is part of the world that we are living today, so we are used to it,” Nadal said on Friday. “It’s not the best situation possible, but at least we are able to keep going,.

“We really hope in the near future with the vaccine we will be able to come back to our normal life on Tour.”

The player who stands behind Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev in the tournament pecking order, begins against Australian Alexei Popyrin, who has played just three previous matches at Roland Garros.

The draw also landed him in the same half as Djokovic and Roger Federer.

While Nadal yearns to live a “normal” tournament life, he is happy to put up with another fortnight of inconvenience.

“I would love to go out and have dinner and to enjoy normal life, but it’s not possible today, so we just wait for it.”

The Spaniard also has to put aside the weight of well-wishers, with expectations riding high for another trophy performance.

“This is the most important place in my tennis career, it’s true that I’ve done  something very special here.

“ButI can’t thank enough Roland Garros, the French Federation, everybody. It’s been very special for me.

“To have a memory like this forever from Roland Garros is something that makes me feel very proud and very satisfied.”


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