Nadal uncertain over Roland Garros appearance

Fernando Kallas |

Rafael Nadal, speaking at the Madrid Open, is not sure he’ll be fit to play the French Open.
Rafael Nadal, speaking at the Madrid Open, is not sure he’ll be fit to play the French Open.

Rafael Nadal says he is not sure he will be able to play at next month’s French Open after pushing through the pain barrier in his comeback from injury.

The 37-year-old, a 22-time grand slam champion, said that he is far from top form and is only playing against American teenager Darwin Blanch in the first round of the Madrid Open on Thursday as a personal sacrifice.

“If I was in Paris today, I wouldn’t go out to play,” Nadal told a press conference on Wednesday, referring to Roland Garros.

“I don’t think I’ll be able to play at 100 per cent but it’s important to be able to play for the last time in Madrid, it means a lot to me to play on this court where I’ve had some great moments.”

“This doesn’t mean I’m giving up on anything in the next few weeks, I don’t know what might happen…

“I’m going to do the things I have to do to be able to play in Paris. And if I can, I can and if I can’t, I can’t. I’m going to Paris if I feel like I’m good enough … if I feel capable enough to compete.”

Nadal, who has said he expects to retire after the 2024 season, returned to competition in Brisbane in January, after almost a year sidelined with a hip flexor injury.

However, after winning his first two matches in the tournament, Nadal lost in three sets to Australian Jordan Thompson in the quarter-finals.

The gruelling contest appeared to take its toll on the Spaniard who, trailing 1-4 in the final set, took a medical timeout to get treatment on his upper-left leg.

He then did not play an ATP event until making a winning return last week in Barcelona, with a first round victory over Flavio Cobolli, only to fall a day later in a 7-5 6-1 second round defeat by Australian fourth seed Alex de Minaur.

Nadal is due to play de Minaur again in Madrid should he beat 16-year-old Blanch in the first round.

“I am a competitive person and it is difficult to play without being able to give my best. If you ask me if I was happy in Barcelona, I say ‘no, I wasn’t happy’. What happens is that if I had tried to be happy in Barcelona today I probably wouldn’t be here, that’s the reality,” Nadal said.

“That’s why I want to try to go out and play in Paris feeling capable enough to compete well. I’m going to do my best to try to make it happen, and if it doesn’t I’ll have the personal satisfaction and the gratitude for having tried.

“We’ll see what happens, but the world doesn’t end if I don’t play at Roland Garros. I also have the Olympic Games ahead of me.”

Reuters