In an interview with Spanish radio station Cope, 14-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal's assistant coach Francisco Roig discussed Nadal's gradual improvement and the expectation of a tenth Roland Garros title. Roig, who coaches Nadal when the Spaniard's uncle Toni Nadal cannot attend, travels with the former world number one to many tournaments, especially in North and South America and in Asia.
Roig on Nadal's gradual improvement
"He was working well, physically was feeling good because he had worked much. In Indian Wells he made semifinals and in Monte Carlo the clay-court season could not start better. It gives tranquility and good feelings. He made the breakthrough, I was in Monte Carlo and you noticed it already watching how he hit the ball," said Roig. "I think this clay-court season can go well. The criticism towards him? When things do not go well and in Rafa's case you were used to win, it's normal. When things were not going well we worked to change the situation. Champions never get tired to win, Rafa has won many Slams and Masters 1000 and it's difficult to be ambitious to win," added the assistant coach.
Roig on the importance of a tenth French Open title
"It's not that he thought that would have never won again, it was a time matter, he always believed in himself and wanted to comeback to win, he has always been ambitious. The things that motivates him more are the Grand Slams, tournaments that can make history, Rafael has 14 and this year the main goal is to win Roland Garros. The goal is to arrive there with a couple of titles in order to have confidence. Coming back to win, opponents respect you and have to fight more than before. When they entered the court believing to win was more complicated for Rafa."
Nadal's current week in Barcelona
After a monumental ninth title last week in Monte Carlo, the Spaniard arrived at his home tournament of Barcelona full of confidence. The top seed began his quest for a ninth title with a 6-3, 6-2 routine win over veteran Spaniard Marcel Granollers. The nine-time champion then faced another countrymen in Albert Montanes, with the world number five coming out on top in straight sets. Most recently in the quarterfinals, Nadal topped his nemesis of 2015, Fabio Fognini, in an entertaining 6-2, 7-6 win over the flamboyant Italian. Nadal will next face German Philipp Kohlschreiber in the last four as the Spaniard searches for a historic ninth title in the Catalan capital.