Rafael Nadal makes brutal French Open statement as fans braced for heartache

Rafael Nadal makes brutal French Open statement as fans braced for heartache

Rafael Nadal made his conditions for competing in the French Open very clear after earning a significant win over world No. 11 Alex De Minaur in Madrid. Despite proving that he could still compete with the best, the 14-time Roland Garros champion made it clear that he wouldn’t play in Paris if he didn’t feel physically ready to last the entire tournament. It means that his fans may have already seen him at the tournament for the last time.

At the beginning of the week in Madrid, Nadal revealed that he could skip the French Open this year. “If I arrive in Paris like I feel today, I would not go on court. I will not play. I will play Roland Garros if I feel competitive. If I can play, I play. If I can’t play, I can’t,” the 37-year-old said on Wednesday.

Since then, the former world No. 1 has proven he can still compete with the best players. After dispatching 16-year-old wildcard Darwin Blanch in the first round, Nadal sent 10th seed De Minaur packing on Saturday with a 7-6(6) 6-3 victory. It was arguably the best match of his comeback so far as he appeared more aggressive and managed to hit more winners, also improving his serve after his past struggles with abdominal pain.

His performance against De Minaur provided some encouragement that he could be ready for next month’s French Open. But Nadal has now explained that it makes no sense for him to be there if he doesn’t believe he can “dream”.

“No idea. I think last few days my body feelings improved a little bit, but not sure yet,” Nadal said of his chances of playing in Paris. “I understand for the people who are not in my team it’s difficult to understand some things, but for me, Roland Garros is the most important tournament of my tennis career and all the things that I lived there, enjoyed there, stays in my heart forever.”

Although Nadal was able to be competitive against De Minaur, he explained that it was a “different story” at the French Open. He continued: “So it’s not a thing about losing or winning. It’s about going on court there with the feeling that I can fight and I can be competitive and, you know, let’s go on court and dream about what can happen, no?

“So if I am not able to go on court and dream about even if it’s the minimum, minimum percentage, for me don’t make sense to go on court, no? I prefer to stay with all the amazing memories that I have. I want to be there, and even losing, but, you know, go on court with the chance to dream about something important, if that happens, I’m gonna be on court. If I am not allowed to make that happen, even if it’s a super, super small percentage, I probably will not go on court. That’s the feeling, and it’s best-of-five, so it’s a different story.”

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