PARIS – Rafael Nadal has squandered his chances of winning a record-breaking 14th French Open title but says he will not stay in Paris if he thinks it is not possible.
The 35-year-old says he has not felt less prepared for his favorite tournament since winning the Australian Open due to a rib injury and chronic leg problems.
Nadal withdrew from the Barcelona Open last month and lost to Denis Shapovalov in the third round of the Rome Masters.
Asked about his fitness at a press conference on Friday, the record 21-time Grand Slam champion said: “It’s something I live every day, so it’s nothing new to me and it’s not a big surprise. I came here just to play tennis and play Roland Garros Here to try the best results.
“And if I hadn’t believed this could happen, I probably wouldn’t be here.”
His best result of the European clay court season was in the quarter-finals in Madrid where he lost in three sets to Spanish teen sensation Carlos Alcaraz.
Nadal, however, arrived in Paris and on Wednesday evening he practiced with colleague Mallorcan Jaume Muner.
“Throughout my tennis career I have considered myself a candidate here, because I have won tournaments here before. Now Friday, before the start of the tournament, I don’t think I’m a favorite. But you never know what might happen, “he said.
Nadal can only hope that his leg injury will heal in a few weeks, especially as his path leads to a clash with world number one Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals.
“I think my tennis level on the ground has been high for a long time in my tennis career, no doubt. The numbers say so, ”said the fifth seed.
“Unfortunately, the preparation was not as good as I had hoped, and unfortunately the fracture of the ribs, which I have been recovering from since the start of the season, stopped.
“But in sports, things can change quickly, and all I can do is try to be prepared if that change happens.
“It seems difficult today and it seems there are players who are in better form than me, no doubt. But you never know what might happen in the next few days. “
Nadal will start the campaign against Jordan Thompson of Australia.
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