Rafael Nadal prepared for last year’s French Open by taking part in a poker tournament, and the Spaniard could be forgiven for looking to play a few hands of cards in the run-up to his return to Paris. Favourite Nadal will head to Roland Garros this month looking to win his fifth straight French Open crown, which would then take his overall French Open tally to nine, and the world number-one has made it clear he believes he is able take plenty of the skills he has learned playing poker into his tennis.
When taking into consideration Nadal’s supreme athletic ability, it’s no surprise to discover the Spaniard was brought up playing a number of sports in which he excelled in during his formative years, but it was tennis which took his full focus for the majority of his career until trying his hand at professional poker last year. While Nadal doesn’t appear set to trade his racket for his visor on a full time basis just yet, he has previously highlighted the parallels that run between poker and tennis.
“It’s no secret that I love the competition, and that’s what I like about the game of poker. It’s a game of skill that requires mental strength and the ability to out think your opponents and in that way it is very similar to tennis,” Nadal said before last year’s French Open.
Nadal revealed on his website that he has managed to find time in his French Open preparations to play a hand or two of poker, and the Spaniard looked rightly relaxed as the overwhelming favourite for the title. After winning three titles on the way to the second grand slam of 2014, Nadal will know victory at the French Open will give him a great platform on which to launch an assault on the rest of the season – not to mention complete the Spanish star’s French Open flush.