Just over a week before the start of the French Open Rafael Nadal once again finds himself nursing a long-term condition that sidelined him from the Tour for months last year.
The 21-time Grand Slam champion looked to be in visible discomfort during parts of his clash with Denis Shapovalov in the third round of the Italian Masters on Thursday. After clinching the opening set, Nadal fell 1-6, 7-5, 6-2, to the Canadian who registered his first-ever win over a top 10 player on clay and his 10th overall. After the match, Nadal said:
“I am not injured. I am a player living with an injury. That’s it, it is nothing new. It’s something that is there. My day-by-day is difficult, honestly. Even like this, I am trying hard. Of course, it’s difficult for me to accept the situation sometimes. It can be frustrating that a lot of days I can’t practice the proper way.”
The setback occurred during what was only Nadal’s second tournament since returning to action following a rib injury. At last week’s Madrid Open he reached the quarter-finals before losing to compatriot Carlos Alcaraz. Touching upon what he needs to do, Nadal said:
"First thing that I need to do is to not have pain to practice, that’s it. And the negative thing is today it’s not possible for me to play. But maybe in two days things will be better, that’s the thing that I have with my foot. It’s time to accept the situation and fight. That’s it. Honestly, I can’t say anything more now. I
still have a goal (to be ready for the French Open) in one week and a
couple of days. I’m going to keep dreaming about that goal.”
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