WATCH: Rafael Nadal receives replica of Roland Garros sculpture, sets low-key goal for French Open

Shahida Jacobs
Rafael Nadal French Open Roland Garros statue

Rafael Nadal welcomed some famous visitors to his Rafa Nadal Academy in Manacor this week as he received a replica of his famous statue at Roland-Garros.

After winning a record-extending 13th French Open title in 2020, Nadal was honoured with a sculpture at the Porte d’Auteuil stadium in May 2021. The statue was created by Spanish sculptor Jordi Díez Fernandez and stands three-metres tall, 4.89m wide and two-metres deep.

Nadal, of course, went on to win a 14th title in Paris last year and it was only right that French tennis authorities honoured the tennis great by handing him a replica of the sculpture.

That honour fell to Roland-Garros Tournament Director Amelie Mauresmo and French Tennis Federation (FFT) President Gilles Moretton as they visited the famous academy on Wednesday.

“It is a great privilege to welcome you here in my academy. You know how much Roland-Garros and this place mean to me,” Nadal said.

“Having you here is a very special moment, and I can’t thank you enough for coming, along with some of the staff with whom I am very close at Roland-Garros.

“Thank you so much for sending this replica of the big one at Roland-Garros. For me, it is incredible to have my sculpture at Roland-Garros and now I have one here, and that means a lot!”

There is one question on everyone’s mind ahead of Roland-Garros 2023 and it is whether or not Nadal will be fit to play as he has struggled with injury since the Australian Open.

It remains to be seen when the 22-time Grand Slam winner will return to action, but he is hopeful of playing and being competitive at his favourite tournament.

The King of Clay added: “Thank you very much for everything, and I really hope to see you again this year at Roland-Garros, and I’ll try to be competitive [smiles].”

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The Rafa Nadal Academy was launched in 2016 and it is one of the best in the world so no doubt that Mauresmo was impressed with what she saw.

“I was really impressed with the facilities that were built, step by step, and the way it was designed for all the populations that are going to come here, all the people that are going to practise or go to school here. It’s really unbelievable,” the former world No 1 said.

“For me, when I walk in the academy, what I see is the spirit and the values and the hard work, and that’s what makes Rafa’s personality that we see on the court. We kind of know who he is, what kind of man he is, it is reflected in his academy…

“All the kids came in to say hello, they greet each other, they embrace what they have, they encourage each other. For me, that was really something that stood out during the visit today. Of course, great facilities any everything, but the spirit and the values are really good.”