WATCH: Rafael Nadal receives replica of Roland Garros sculpture, sets low-key goal for French Open
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].”
READ MORE: Rafael Nadal rebuffs Monte-Carlo Masters reports – ‘Unfortunately I cannot confirm
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.”
WATCH: World No 675 leads emotional rendition of La Marseillaise at Roland Garros
Lucas Pouille and the Court Philippe Chatrier crowd belt out La Marseillaise.
French Open day 1: Marta Kostyuk feels ire of crowd, Ons Jabeur has options, British hopes dashed
The story of the first day of action from Roland Garros.
What Andy Murray needs to do to secure a seeding at Wimbledon
Andy Murray is currently 43rd in the ATP rankings and needs to get into the top 32 to secure a seeding for Wimbledon.
Where will Rafael Nadal be ranked when he returns to the court?
Nadal will be ranked in the mid-130s on the ATP list at the start of June.
Mats Wilander says Aryna Sabalenka has ‘no weaknesses’ after French Open win
“She has no weaknesses in her game if she believes in herself.”
Marta Kostyuk on French Open booing: ‘People should be honestly embarrassed’
The Ukrainian has been the most outspoken critic of tennis’ reaction to the war in her home country.
Stefanos Tsitsipas pats himself on the back – ‘It was a great comeback from me’
Stefanos Tsitsipas saved three set points to avoid being taken to a decider.
Toni Nadal analyses favourites to win 2023 French Open
The legendary coach explains who he would put his money on to win the Paris major.
Dan Evans on French Open controversial foot-fault call: ‘Disruptive, wrong’
Evans also described his current form as “shocking” after French Open exit.
Casper Ruud expects Rafael Nadal to play French Open again but admits ‘end is near’
Casper Ruud thinks we will see Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros again.