Rafael Nadal evaluates his progress and addresses French Open question ahead of Italian Open

Rafael Nadal evaluates his progress and addresses French Open question ahead of Italian Open

Rafael Nadal gave a positive assessment of the progress he has made since his comeback ahead of his appearance at the 2024 Italian Open.

The tennis icon also expressed that he “cannot predict what kind of emotions” he would have at this year’s French Open if he plays.

Nadal will face Belgian qualifier Zizou Bergs, the world No 108, in the opening round of the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Rome on Thursday.

The Spaniard, who will turn 38 in June, is likely playing the Italian Open for the last time and could soon also make his final appearance at Roland Garros.

Since winning his 14th French Open title and 22nd Grand Slam crown overall at the 2022 edition of Roland Garros, Nadal has been plagued by injury issues. He won three matches in a row for the first time since the 2022 US Open at the recent Madrid Masters.

READ MORE: The 6 men to beat Rafael Nadal at the Italian Open with Novak Djokovic only man to achieve feat more than once

In his pre-tournament press conference in Rome, Nadal was asked what his emotions would be going into this year’s French Open.

“I can’t have a clear answer. First of all, I want to play Rome. That’s the tournament that I am today,” said the Spaniard.

“I don’t think after that. If after that I feel ready to play Roland Garros, I cannot predict what kind of emotions I going to have there.

“I just want to enjoy every day. I am enjoying playing tennis, by the way. Always depending on my body how far I can keep going in terms of timings, no?

“I am happy doing what I’m doing. When I’m talking about retirement, [it] is not because I’m not happy anymore playing tennis or I’m not feeling myself competitive enough.

“That’s not the case. It’s about the body was not able to play weeks in a row, was not able to allow me practise and enjoy the practices in a daily basis. Then arrive a moment that don’t make sense.

“If you’re not able to do the things the proper way in your daily basis, you are not able to enjoy because of the pain and the injuries in your daily basis, it’s almost impossible to have success or to keep fighting for the things that really motivate me, no?

“But now is my third week on the tour almost in a row, so… It’s a good moment, even if the results are not what used to be. But I am increasing my feeling, my level. Let’s see. I want to keep going.”

The former world No 1 also gave his evaluation of his improvement in terms of tennis and fitness since making his return to action in Barcelona last month.

“Well, it’s something that is not every day the same. Is not a line like this (steadily up), it’s a little bit like this (up and down). Even after Barcelona, I had some tough moments in Madrid. Even here the first day,” Nadal explained.

“But in a general perspective, the line is going up, without a doubt. So yeah, I mean, happy to be today where I am. because one month ago, for me was almost impossible to think that I will be able to play in Barcelona, then in Madrid, and now being here in Rome.

“Things are happening. [It] is true that I was able to accept the challenge, accept that some moments I was not able to push the way that I wanted to push.

“Doing the things the proper way and trying to avoid a lot of risks in terms of pushing a lot on the matches, I was able to keep moving. Madrid was a good test for me playing I think two days in a row, one match over three hours.

“My feelings are better always. In terms of tennis, too. Why not? I am here to try my best. Tomorrow is a start. All the matches are tough for me today and difficult and more unpredictable than what the matches used to be for me, especially on clay.

“I accept that role. I accept that challenge. I am excited about the way that I can be able to play if I keep working the proper way and my body allow me.”

READ MORE: Jimmy Connors weighs in on the prospect of Rafael Nadal retiring this year

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