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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Friday, May 24, 2024
Perrier, not the fountain of youth, is the official water of Roland Garros.

Yet 37-year-old Rafael Nadallooks revitalized on the red clay, says Daniil Medvedev.

Roland Garros Men's Draw: Top 5 Takeaways

The fifth-ranked Medvedev practiced with Nadal at Roland Garros yesterday and reports the King of Clay not only beat him in a practice set, he played better than he did in Madrid or Rome.

"Well, honestly, he played well," Medvedev told the media in Paris. "We didn't play five sets. He played well. Better than what I saw on TV from Rome or Madrid.

"I didn't feel I was bad. We played a set and more, and he beat me."

In one of the biggest blockbuster French Open first-round showdowns in Open Era history, Nadal will face two-time Rome champion Alexander Zverev.

Medvedev, who lost a pair of gut-wrenching Grand Slam finals to Nadal at the 2019 US Open and 2022 Australian Open, predicts "Rafa can perfectly win" when he meets Zverev.

"It will be interesting for me to see how he plays against Zverev, because once again, Rafa will always be Rafa," Medvedev said. "He won here 14 times. Until he plays here, well, even if he may not be favorite, he can perfectly win.

"I don't know. He may have lost three or four times. The match will be interesting."

The 2021 US Open champion Medvedev said practicing with Nadal yesterday, he saw the Spanish superstar shatter a myth.

While Nadal has a well-earned reputation as one of the hardest-working champions in Open Era history, Medvedev knows from personal experience the 14-time Roland Garros champion owns astounding hand skills.

"We laughed because sometimes about Rafa because he's, maybe, I don't want to say the most hard-working tennis player ever, but very hard working for sure. A lot of hard work, a lot of mental effort," Medvedev said "Sometimes people forget he has a lot of talent in his hands also.

"We were warming up serves and then he did three in a row volley, dropshots, banana ones, like with a backspin, and it was funny.

"We were saying, Yeah, no talent, just hard work (smiling). It's tough to play him. He has the capability to spin the ball not like other players, get these high balls especially on clay, is not easy. Then we go to where he fights for every point, he brings intensity to every point. You know you're going to be tired, you know it's going to be tough. It's not easy."

Photo credit: Mike Lawrence/USTA/US Open