Rafael Nadal unsure over French Open after heavy defeat to Hurkacz in Rome

Rafael Nadal unsure over French Open after heavy defeat to Hurkacz in Rome

Rafael Nadal said he was undecided about playing at the French Open, but was more likely to do so than not, after he suffered a massive blow to his confidence with a comprehensive 6-1, 6-3 defeat to Hubert Hurkacz in the second round of the Italian Open in Rome.

“The decision, as you can imagine, is not clear in my mind today,” said Nadal. “But if I have to say what’s my feeling and if my mind is closer one way or the other way, I’m going to say: ‘Be in Roland Garros and try my best’. Physically I have some issues, but not probably enough to say [I’m] not playing in the most important event of my tennis career.

“Let’s see what’s going on, how I feel myself mentally tomorrow, after tomorrow, and in one week. If I feel ready, I’m going to try to be there and fight for the things that I have been fighting the last 15 years, [even] if now [it] seems impossible.”

Having been uncertain about whether he would be fit enough to even compete in the clay court season, Nadal arrived in Rome satisfied with his progress after competing for three weeks without any major physical problems. But in his first round win against Zizou Bergs, a Belgian ­qualifier ranked No 108 in the world, the 37-year-old Spaniard struggled.

In the early stages of his bout with Hurkacz, Nadal actually looked sharp, generating five break points in a high-quality, 14-minute game on the Pole’s serve. But after Hurkacz held, he relaxed and opened his shoulders. Alongside his untouchable serve, currently the best in the world, the 27-year-old dominated the baseline exchanges, striking his ­temperamental forehand with rare freedom as he put Nadal under ­sustained pressure.

For the Spaniard, though, it was a grim performance. His serve, with its simplified motion due to his physical limitations, was completely ineffective against one of the weakest returners on the tour.

He struggled with his timing off both ground strokes and, as the match fell away from him and Hurkacz offered few opportunities on his serve, he quickly looked out of ideas. Having spent so much of the past 16 months more focused on his injuries, Nadal left the court concerned with his form.

“Tough day for me in all ways because I felt more ready than what I showed,” he said. “That gives me a bad feeling because not being able to show myself on court … [It] is something that in some way creates doubts. That’s it, no? Just accept the situation.”

Cameron Norrie qualified for the third round of the Italian Open after defeating Jaume Munar. Photograph: Guglielmo Mangiapane/Reuters

Meanwhile, Cameron Norrie, the last remaining British player in either singles draw, moved into the third round with a hard-fought 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 win over Jaume Munar of Spain. Norrie, seeded No 27, had received a first-round bye. He will face Stefanos Tsitsipas, the sixth seed, on Monday after the Greek overcame Jan Lennard Struff 6-7 (1), 6-4, 6-4.

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Daniil Medvedev, the men’s second seed and the defending champion, proved too consistent and disciplined for Britain’s Jack Draper as he moved into the third round with a tight 7-5, 6-4 win that sets up a meeting with qualifier Hamad Medjedovic. “It was just good to be on court with one of the best players in the world, see where he’s at and know that I’m really not that far away,” said Draper.

In the women’s draw, Naomi Osaka continued her positive form as she followed up a first win over a player in the top 20 on clay with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Daria Kasatkina, the 10th seed, to win three successive completed matches for the first time since her return from maternity leave to reach the fourth round.

Iga Swiatek, the top seed, continued her pursuit of her first Madrid-Rome double by beating Yulia Putintseva 6-3, 6-4.

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