Rafael Nadal casts fresh doubts on French Open participation

Rafael Nadal casts fresh doubts on French Open participation

Spanish tennis maestro Rafael Nadal is facing race against time to be fully fit for the French Open 2024.

Rafael Nadal of Spain practices during the Mutua Madrid Open 2024, ATP Masters 1000 and WTA 1000, tournament celebrated at Caja Magica on April 24, 2024 in Madrid, Spain. (Getty Images)

Madrid: Rafael Nadal’s participation in the upcoming French Open was thrown under fresh doubt after he revealed that he will only feature in the second Grand Slam of the tournament if he feels “capable enough to compete well”.

Speaking ahead of his opening round clash at the Madrid Open, Nadal admitted that if the French Open was starting today, he wouldn’t be able to take the court but said that he would keep fighting to play at his beloved tournament for the last time in his career.

The 22-time Grand Slam winner, who returned to action after an 11-month injury lay-off at the Brisbane Open in January, breezed past his opponents in the first two matches. But a gruelling defeat in a three-hour, 24-minute contest against Jordan Thompson took a toll on his body as he suffered another hip injury.

It was a stark reminder of his fitness issues in what is likely to be his final year in professional tennis. Struggling to deal with the demands of the game after over two decades of play, Nadal missed another three months due to injury.

The Spanish sensation returned last week in Barcelona, where he suffered a second-round defeat.

He has been training cautiously ahead of the Madrid opener and told the reporters on Wednesday about his chances to play at the French Open starting on May 24.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next three weeks. I will keep fighting and doing the things I believe I have to do so I can try to play in Paris, and if I can play, I play, if I can’t, I can’t,” the 14-time Roland Garros champion told reporters at the Madrid Open on Wednesday.

“I will not play in Paris if I am the way I am now. If Paris were today, I wouldn’t take to the court. That’s the reality. I will only play in Paris if I feel capable enough to compete well.”

Nadal facing race against time

After pulling out of the Monte Carlo Masters, Nadal kicked off his clay campaign in Barcelona last week. He will face 16-year-old American Darwin Blanch in the Madrid Open first round on Thursday.

The Spanish maestro has won a record five titles on home turf, so it’s natural for him to feel emotional ahead of his ‘Last Dance’ in Madrid

“I don’t think I’m ready to play at my 100 per cent but I’m prepared to go out and play tomorrow. It’s important for me to play one last time here in Madrid, for me it means a lot,” said the 37-year-old Nadal.

The former world number one admitted that his body is not fit enough to compete at 100 per cent and playing with half fitness hinders his performance massively.

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