Nadal Says His ‘Old Machine’ Takes Time to Fire Up

Spain's Rafael Nadal talks to journalists during a press conference at the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome, Monday, May 9, 2022. (AP)
Spain's Rafael Nadal talks to journalists during a press conference at the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome, Monday, May 9, 2022. (AP)
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Nadal Says His ‘Old Machine’ Takes Time to Fire Up

Spain's Rafael Nadal talks to journalists during a press conference at the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome, Monday, May 9, 2022. (AP)
Spain's Rafael Nadal talks to journalists during a press conference at the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome, Monday, May 9, 2022. (AP)

Rafa Nadal's return to action after more than a month out due to injury saw him lose to teenager Carlos Alcaraz in the Madrid quarter-finals but the 21-times Grand Slam champion always knew it would take some time for his "old machine" to fire up.

The Spaniard, sidelined by a rib injury at Indian Wells in March, hopes to build momentum in Rome before launching his campaign for a 14th French Open crown.

The 35-year-old Australian Open champion has endured a string of injuries during a career spanning more than two decades and he said he needed time to get his body up to speed.

"When you're six weeks without touching a racquet and having the chance to move your body ... my body is like an old machine. To put this machine on again it takes some time," Nadal told reporters before the Italian Open.

"It's not the same when you're 19 than when you are almost 36, with all the issues I went through in my career. You need to build again the confidence, your movements, then you start feeling comfortable with your tennis.

"It's more about being confident with my movements, recover the speed, recover the way that I have to play on clay and let's see. I'm confident that I can play well. I need time, but maybe this week can be a positive week, maybe not. Who knows?"

Nadal, a winner of three titles this year, lost to Novak Djokovic in the Roland Garros semi-finals last year, just the third time he was beaten at the claycourt major since his debut there in 2005.

The Spaniard said he was doing all he can to be fully ready for the tournament, which starts on May 22.

"That's my goal ... I didn't have another chance to approach this claycourt season with the things I went through," he said. "I'm going to give myself a chance and we'll see what's going on."



Alizé Cornet Retires from Tennis after 1st Round French Open Loss to Zheng Qinwen 

France's Alizé Cornet holds an award during a tribute ceremony after her women's singles match on Court Philippe-Chatrier against China's Zheng Qinwen on day three of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros Complex in Paris on May 28, 2024. (AFP)
France's Alizé Cornet holds an award during a tribute ceremony after her women's singles match on Court Philippe-Chatrier against China's Zheng Qinwen on day three of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros Complex in Paris on May 28, 2024. (AFP)
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Alizé Cornet Retires from Tennis after 1st Round French Open Loss to Zheng Qinwen 

France's Alizé Cornet holds an award during a tribute ceremony after her women's singles match on Court Philippe-Chatrier against China's Zheng Qinwen on day three of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros Complex in Paris on May 28, 2024. (AFP)
France's Alizé Cornet holds an award during a tribute ceremony after her women's singles match on Court Philippe-Chatrier against China's Zheng Qinwen on day three of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros Complex in Paris on May 28, 2024. (AFP)

Alizé Cornet was given a standing ovation and a farewell trophy after playing the final match of her long tennis career, a 6-2, 6-1 loss to No. 7 seed Zheng Qinwen in the first round of the French Open on Tuesday.

The 34-year-old Cornet is a Frenchwoman who was given a wild-card entry into the tournament. She had announced ahead of time that this would be her last event before retirement.

French tennis federation president Gilles Moretton and tournament director Amélie Mauresmo participated in a ceremony after the match at Court Philippe-Chatrier.

In an emotional speech, Cornet thanked her family and French fans, expressing her gratitude for their support over the years.

“You gave me incredible emotions. It’s tough to realize that it’s the last time I’m feeling this,” she said.

A video tribute highlighting her career, which began in 2005, was shown on the giant screens.

Cornet reached a career-high ranking of No. 11 in 2009 and is currently No. 106, after going 1-7 this season. She holds the women’s record for most consecutive Grand Slam tournaments played at 69, a streak that ran from the 2007 Australian Open to this French Open.

Her career highlights include defeating No. 1 Serena Williams in the third round at Wimbledon in 2014 and one major quarterfinal appearance, at the Australian Open in 2022.

“We won’t forget you. I hope you enjoy your life after retirement,” said Zheng, the runner-up at this year’s Australian Open.

Cornet said she decided last year she would stop playing professionally but waited to reveal the news until about a month ago. She is a published author and says she sees writing as part of the next chapter of her life.

“I wanted to have a couple more wins under my belt before I finished,” Cornet said. “But it was a lot of up and downs. Definitely, emotionally, it was not easy. Some days I was really excited about retirement and some other days I was very scared and very uncertain. So overall, I feel in peace today about it, and so I’m very happy about that decision.”