Rafael Nadal admitted that it is “living with an injury” as the Spaniard limped to defeat against Denis Shapovalov in Rome, raising concerns that the 13-time French Open winner won’t be fully fit for the start of the tournament later this month. Nadal limped and winced during his 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 loss to Shapovalov in the third round of the Italian Open on Thursday, as he was forced to miss the start of the season on clay due to to a fractured rib.
“I am a player who lives with an injury” the 35-year-old man said later.
“That’s it. No, no, it’s nothing new. It is something that is there. Unfortunately my day to day is difficult, really.
“Even so, I’m trying really hard. Of course, sometimes I have a hard time accepting the situation, right? It can be frustrating that many days you can’t practice properly. So today in the middle of the second set [the pain] start, then [it] It wasn’t playable for me.”
The return of his injury problems so close to the start of Roland-Garros, which begins on May 22, will set off alarm bells for the Spaniard’s supporters.
Nadal was forced to miss the final four months of last season with a foot injury that he feared could end his career.
However, the great Spaniard returned in remarkable style earlier this year, with a 20-match winning streak that included victory over Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in a classic Australian Open final, giving Nadal a title. record 21 Grand Slams. It is well known that 13 of those major crowns have come on the red earth of Roland-Garros, a tournament Nadal has reigned over since his first title in 2003.
Fans in the French capital may not see the best version of Nadal at this year’s tournament, should he be unable to handle his ongoing foot ailment.
“I don’t know if I rest, I don’t know if maybe I practice”, Nadal said about his plans before the tournament.
“But I still [have] a goal in a week and a couple of days. I’m going to keep dreaming of that goal.”
Nadal and Shapovalov last met in an Australian Open quarterfinal clash in January, which Nadal won in five sets.
The match was marred by the Canadian’s claims that his rival gets away with slow play and receives preferential treatment from the referees. Nadal was gracious in the loss to Shapovalov in Rome, saying: “I don’t want to take away the credit Denis deserves… Today is for him.”
Shapolov was complimentary and wished Nadal a speedy recovery for the French Open.
“He was completely outclassing me at the start of the match. Obviously the first set, the beginning of the second, I was just holding on. Definitely very happy to flip it.” the 23-year-old said.
Shapovalov had made headlines earlier in the tournament after yelling at the Italian crowd that “Shut your mouth” while rowing with match officials for a line call, but will now advance to a quarter-final meeting with Norway’s Casper Rudd. Elsewhere in Rome, world number one Novak Djokovic continued his preparation for Roland-Garros with a straight-set victory over Swiss veteran Stan Warwinka in their meeting on Thursday.
Djokovic now faces young Canadian Felix Auger Aliassime. The Serb can ensure he maintains his position atop the ATP rankings ahead of Medvedev if he reaches the semi-finals in Rome, a tournament he has won five times previously. Djokovic, 34, will be the defending champion at the French Open. He will attempt to tie Nadal for 21 Grand Slam titles after the Spaniard took the lead in Melbourne following Djokovic’s deportation from Australia in his visa and vaccination dispute with the government.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.