Nadal admits he must ‘lose fear’ in bold pledge to risk his body for French Open

Nadal admits he must ‘lose fear’ in bold pledge to risk his body for French Open

Rafael Nadal made a bold statement about pushing his body to the limit ahead of the French Open. The 14-time champion in Paris has yet to decide whether he will play the clay-court Grand Slam. But Nadal knows that he must “lose fear” and risk something happening to his body if he wants to feel “ready for what’s coming”.

Nadal’s comeback has been gaining momentum over the last couple of weeks. He reached the last 16 at the Madrid Open and has now followed it up with a gritty first-round win in Rome, where he came from a set down to defeat qualifier Zizou Bergs. 

There are positive signs for the 37-year-old who, just a few weeks ago, didn’t know whether he’d be ready to return in Barcelona – his first tournament since he got injured at the Brisbane International in January. But he has remained sceptical about whether he will be ready to compete in the French Open, previously saying he would not play if he didn’t feel he could trust his body to go all the way.

While the former world No. 1 is still uncertain, he has now boldly pledged to test his body to see whether he will be ready for Roland Garros, even if that means suffering another injury. “It’s tough because I did the things very step by step, trying to make small improvements day by day,” Nadal said when asked how tough it was to manage his body in matches while making sure he didn’t hurt himself.

Nadal faced a setback when he returned from a year-long layoff in January, suffering a micro muscle tear in Brisbane. And after months of being cautious, the 22-time Major winner is ready to give it his all and see what he can do.

He continued: “But 1715274299 arrives the moment today that I need to try. I mean, I need to try to play at my hundred per cent. It’s not easy because I need to lose a little bit of fear that I have in some shots because, for example, in Brisbane I got a tear on the place that I had the surgery last year.

“Sometimes important surgery like I had, I had to remove an important part of my psoas tendon, put a lot of muscles around working more than before. I mean, it’s about having the right time to adapt all these muscles to this new configuration of the hip. But I don’t have that much time, no? That’s the problem and that’s the true.”

Nadal had originally hoped to be at 100 per cent for the clay season but couldn’t play the Monte-Carlo Masters because of an abdominal issue. With the French Open now two-and-a-half weeks away, he knows it’s now or never to put his physicality to the test.

“I did this progress the last three weeks on the tour. But 1715274299 arrives the moment that I need to try, I need to go for everything. If something happens, something happens. That’s the truth,” he added.

“It’s not like in Madrid, it’s not like in Barcelona, especially that I need to analyse how the things are improving, to explore if I am able to adapt all these things to the new weeks. But that’s over and we are in Rome.

“I have Roland Garros in just two weeks and a half, so… [Now] arrive a moment that I need to prove myself if I am able to push my body to the limit that I need to push to feel myself ready for what’s coming.”

And Nadal isn’t solely focused on the French Open, as he faces world No. 9 Hubert Hurkacz in his next match in Rome. “I am not talking only about Roland Garros. I am talking about the next match. I need to lose this fear. Matches like today help. Some moments I was moving faster. Some moments not. I need to get used to that, to take that risk,” he explained.

“It’s a moment to me that happens. If something wrong happens, we [are] going to accept it. But that’s the moment to push. I feel more ready to try it than before.”

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