World number 2 Rafael Nadal, who advanced to Roland Garros on Monday with a direct win against Yannick Hanfmann in the second round, has long been praised for his constant intensity and unwavering work ethic. However, the eleven-time Roland Garros champion said that more than a decade ago, after competing in two sets in the final of Madrid against then-world champion Ivan Ljubicic, the tournament took place on hard courts in Madrid in October Things changed for him after a foot injury that endured him until February 2006.
"As a kid, I was a hard worker. Very hard worker. Especially because I was able to play with very, very high intensity for a long time. But to be honest, after the injury I had in 2005, my practice of exercise changed drastically, "said Nadal. "Until I had this problem in Madrid at the end of the season, I could not work at the tournament I won. I had to change the way I approached my tennis career, how I trained, how I could work or not. "
" I find the positive thing I've done throughout my career, when I've been able to practice two hours, three hours, one hour and thirty minutes. Usually I did that with the highest possible intensity. And that's it. What I have done throughout my career is likely to go to court to improve something, and that makes me feel like I'm always alive, and I feel passionate about improving something. "
 In a sense, the 32-year-old has taken the same approach to his results in this European clay court season in the spring. Nadal, who joined BNL d & # 39; Italia Internazionali, had not won a title, his longest drought since 2004, when he won his first ATP Tour title.
But he never allowed himself to be complacent, expecting only his level to come together for this clay court Grand Slam. Everything Nadal focused on was to improve on a daily basis as usual.
"It's very difficult to convince yourself that you're okay. I do not know if many people are convinced of anything in this life, "said Nadal. "I think that if you are convinced of something, you are very arrogant because most of the time you can hope that something will happen and you want something to happen. But to be convinced, I am almost convinced of nothing in this world.
"The only thing I was convinced of was that I wanted to work, try to get to that event in good condition, whatever it was. Whether Madrid, Rome or here now.
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Nadal returned to or near his best in Rome back and won 2019 an elusive triumph. He says there was no switch that turned on.
"Feeling good helps," said Nadal. "What happened in Rome is that I have constantly evolved. And in Rome it is true that I was able to renew at a high level, better than in Madrid. I could not confirm my level in the semi-final in Madrid, but you have some good and bad moments. And in Rome I had almost only good moments.
"So we are here now. It's a different tournament. I will try to play well, fight well and enjoy this tournament which is one of the most important in my life.
After his Nadal does not look too far forward. The Spaniard knows that his form has steadily improved during this swing, but he is not yet concentrating on a potential 12th coupe of the Mousquetaires. Nadal focuses exclusively on his next opponent, Yannick Maden.
"Every year is a new challenge," said Nadal. "Today I won the first challenge and tomorrow I will have the second challenge. This is the only way. "