Rafael Nadal will only play French Open if he can ‘compete well’

Rafael Nadal will only play French Open if he can ‘compete well’

Rafael Nadal is set to face 16-year-old American Darwin Blanch in his Madrid Open first round match.

Rafael Nadal has said he will only play the French Open if he feels “capable enough to compete well”. The 14-time Roland Garros champion conceded that if the Parisian tournament were to start today, he would not be able to participate but vowed to keep fighting for the chance to play at his most successful tournament one last time.

“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 former World No. 1 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 returned from nearly a year out at the Brisbane International
in January, having spent time on the sidelines
nursing a hip injury
. But his comeback was short-lived as he
sustained a muscle problem in Australia
and has competed in just five matches so far this season.

The Spaniard
kicked off his clay campaign in Barcelona
last week, where he
lost in the second round to Alex de Minaur
, and is set to face 16-year-old American Darwin Blanch in his Madrid opener.

“I don’t think I’m ready to play at my 100 percent but I’m prepared to go out and play tomorrow (Thursday). 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.

As he attempts to
resume his ‘Last Dance’
in Madrid and say goodbye to one of his favourite tournaments on court, rather than on the sidelines, the 22-time major champion admits his farewell tour hasn’t been as enjoyable as he would have hoped.

“A few weeks ago, I didn’t know if I will be able to play again on the professional tour, so today I am playing,” he added.

“It’s not perfect, of course not perfect, but at least I am playing and I can enjoy again, especially in the few tournaments that are so emotional for me. I’m able to enjoy the fact that I can say probably goodbye on court.”

Nadal says he’s hitting the ball well when on court but “it’s about more body limitations. I went through a lot of things last year and a half, two years”.

“So body feelings are not good enough to feel myself playing with freedom enough in terms of body issues. That’s not allowing me to compete the way that I would like to compete.”

Blanch ’little nervous’

Nadal was 16 when he played the event in the Spanish capital for the first time, in 2003, four years before Thursday’s opponent Blanch was born.

“I’m really excited, obviously a little bit nervous,” said Blanch, ranked at 1,028 in the world.

“But I’m just really happy to be playing against Rafa. I’m ready to go out and just enjoy every moment.

“I know there’s going to be a lot of people and they’re going to be against me.”

Related Articles