Former Spanish tennis star Alex Corretja has stated that the withdrawal of Rafael Nadal has left him “feeling empty” as he believes that event will be strange without the 14-time winner.
On Thursday (May 18), Nadal announced his withdrawal from the upcoming French Open which starts from May 22. The Spaniard stated that he is not in his best physical condition after suffering an injury at Australian Open in January 2023, in which he was eliminated in the second round.
"It's very weird. It's very unusual to go into Roland Garros not having Rafa. It is going to be very strange without him. I thought that he was going to be able to win, even if he didn't play too many tournaments before because he is Rafa – the greatest guy in history, for sure, on those courts,” said Corretja.
“I feel empty. It is not going to be the same without Rafa at Roland Garros. What he has achieved at the tournament is impossible to repeat, in my opinion. I was hoping he could have a few warm-up tournaments, but given he has taken this decision, it means he was not ready for best-of-five-set matches," Corretja told Eurosport.
He also talked about how Nadal’s withdrawal will affect the Madrid Open champion Carlos Alcaraz in Roland Garros.
“It will definitely have an impact on Alcaraz, for sure. All eyes will be on him and on Novak and all the other potential favourites but being Spanish and knowing that Rafa is not going to be there, all the attention is going to be on him on the men’s side. Knowing Alcaraz, he will be okay to deal with that, I’m sure. He loves that, which is very amazing and very impressive, but he will definitely need to cope with all the attention and everyone asking him about being the favourite and the next Spanish winner, etc.“
The Spaniard believes that Alcaraz can lift the 2023 French Open. However, he needs to stay calm and composed as all eyes and expectations will be on him.