Nadal will only play French Open if he can 'compete well'

Nadal will only play French Open if he can 'compete well'

Rafael Nadal said on Wednesday he will only play at the upcoming French Open if he feels "capable enough to compete well".

Rafael Nadal Rome Open 2021
Photo: Twitter

The 14-time Roland Garros champion conceded that if the action in Paris were to kick off 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 number one 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 to tennis in Brisbane in January after spending almost an entire year 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.


- Not 100% -

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

"I don't think I'm ready to play at my 100 percent but I'm prepared to go out and play tomorrow. 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 he is able to be 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 enough good 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."

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