PARIS (Reuters) - One thing that has been consistent about Rafa Nadal’s disappointing season so far has been his brutal honesty.
After a recent defeat by Italian showman Fabio Fognini the 14-times grand slam champion described his feared forehand as “vulgar” while other defeats have prompted him to admit he is suffering from nerves and a loss of confidence.
Hardly the language expected from one of the toughest competitors the sport has seen but Nadal says it is pointless trying to bluff his way through a poor spell.
Speaking to reporters at the French Open on Friday where the 28-year-old will be gunning for a record extending 10th title, Nadal again pulled no punches.
“I say what I feel. I said a lot of times in my career I‘m not gonna lie if it’s not 100 percent necessary,” he said.
”I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but at the end of the day you can lie here but you cannot lie on court.
”If you say that you are great and you go on court and you play against a good player, you don’t lie. Otherwise you’re gonna come back and gonna say, Okay, I was lying before.
”I don’t need to lie to create better expectations. I am being honest. When I say I don’t know what’s gonna happen, I really don’t know what’s gonna happen.
“That doesn’t mean that I don’t have confidence in myself to try to be ready for it. I have to think that I am ready for it.”
With no titles on European clay this season and crushing defeats by Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Stanislas Wawrinka in the build-up to Roland Garros, most of the talk has been whether or not the Mallorcan is in decline.
Defending women’s champion Maria Sharapova said the doubters were being disrespecftul to a player who has a 66-1 career record at Roland Garros, but her opinion is not shared by former men’s champion Jim Courier.
”What’s interesting with Rafa is that he’s so honest about what he’s going through,“ he told Reuters. ”Rafa has set himself up for the conversation because he talks about how he is not playing the big points well.
“He says he doesn’t have confidence and that his forehand is vulgar. He is initiating the discussion.”
Nadal will need that confidence to return quickly, with a possible quarter-final against Djokovic on the horizon.
“I would love to arrive to that match, but that’s the quarter-finals and I didn’t start the first round yet” the sixth seed said. “If I arrive to that match, we are going to have two days to talk about.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman