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    I felt that Rafa was walking behind me, I felt that a lion was coming – Francisco Cerundolo shares experience of facing Spaniard at Wimbledon

    Francisco Cerundolo

    Tennis   |   August 6, 2022


    Argentina’s Francisco Cerundolo has shared his experience of playing against Rafael Nadal in first round of Wimbledon. Cerundolo was beaten in four-set contest by the veteran Spaniard but not before he gave a good competition.

    Cerundolo admitted that he was nervous before facing Nadal at the Championship and felt a lion was coming at him before he took on the 36-year-old.

    It was Argentine’s first ever meeting against Nadal and he was really nervous before the game. In fact, Nadal is well known for his pre-match rituals which can send shivers down the spine of young players at the big stage.

    Speaking to La Nacion, Cerundolo said, “Half an hour before the game I started to feel nervous. And since I walked from the locker room to the court, passing through the internal corridors, I felt that Rafa was walking [behind me], that he was sighing in my ear. I felt that a lion was coming.”

    However, the world no.25 was able to recollect his focus and decided to play aggressively as soon as he stepped out on the court with the 22-time Grand Slam winner. The Argentine believes he would have suffered a straight set loss had if he not kept his nerves.

    “We were a few meters from the entrance, I psyched myself up and said: ‘I’m going in to kill or I’m going to have a very bad time’. Since I stepped on the grass, I thought: ‘Look where I am,'” Cerundolo said. “I went into party mode and my nerves went away. If I [hadn’t done] that, I would’ve lost 6-1, 6-1, 6-1.”

    “It was a nice tournament, there were no points, what better than that. We started to warm up and at one point I grabbed my cell phone, went on Twitter and boom! I see Cerúndolo-Nadal. I said: ‘Well, Rafa touched me’. In those days, from the draw on Friday to the game on Tuesday, I was eager to get on the court and play.”

    Meanwhile, the youngster also shared his thoughts on psychological challenge to face Nadal as he is one of the best players in the world and has no respite for his opponents.

    “You enter the locker room and the first locker is his. So every time you walk in, you see it. Later, when we were outside the locker room waiting for the security to take us to the court, I walked first and he followed, but he did, I swear…, on my heels,” Cerundolo said. “[Nadal] didn’t give me any space. It’s terrible.”

    The Argentine feels he should have taken Nadal to fifth set as he dominated him for two sets.

    “Then, being in the main hall at Wimbledon, with all the trophies, a lot of people… it’s crazy. They open the door for you and you walk in. When I left the court I was very hot: I had not been able to win the fourth set and I really wanted to go to the fifth, because I felt that I had dominated Nadal for two full sets,” Cerundolo said.


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