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Nadal: “I am putting everything that I have to try to play this tournament” – and the future is very uncertain

Despite having put himself in position for another French Open title, Rafael Nadal is not taking anything for granted. He knows that his physical condition is such that a return trip to Roland Garros in the future is no guarantee.

Rafael Nadal, Roland-Garros 2022 Rafael Nadal, Roland-Garros 2022 © AI / Reuters / Panoramic

At 35 years old (36 on Friday), Rafael Nadal is not taking anything for granted at the French Open. Nadal has been saying throughout this fortnight that he fully understands this could be his last trip to Roland-Garros.

It’s not because Nadal’s level of play has dipped, of course. Because it hasn’t. The Spaniard has powered his way into the semi-finals with wins over Jordan Thompson, Corentin Moutet, Botic van de Zandschulp, Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Novak Djokovic. Thanks to his four-set defeat of Djokovic combined with Carlos Alcaraz’s loss to Alexander Zverev earlier on Tuesday, Nadal is now a heavy favorite to capture a 14th title on the terre battue of Paris.

So why would Nadal stop while he’s on top? Well, he may not have a choice.

Nadal’s chronic foot injury does not appear to be an issue at this particular tournament, but it plagued him last year at Roland-Garros and it was also a problem earlier this spring in Rome — where he lost to Denis Shapovalov. As the rigors of the professional tennis tour add wear and tear to his body, Nadal’s foot is unlikely to suddenly improve.

If we are not able to find an improvement or a small solution on that, then it’s becoming super difficult for me.

Rafael Nadal

“I can’t say another thing,” the 21-time major winner said on Tuesday when to discuss about his comments that this could be his final French Open. “I am very clear about that. As I said, I am old enough to not hide things or come here and say a thing that I don’t believe. I don’t know what can happen. I think, as I said before, I’m gonna be playing this tournament because we are doing the things to be ready to play this tournament, but I don’t know what’s gonna happen after.

“I have what I have there in the foot, so if we are not able to find an improvement or a small solution on that, then it’s becoming super difficult for me. So that’s it.

“I am just enjoying every day that I have the chance to be here and without thinking much about what can happen in the future. Of course I’m gonna keep fighting to find a solution for that, but for the moment we haven’t (smiling). So just [giving] myself a chance to play another semi-final here in Roland-Garros is a lot of energy for me.”

I don’t know what can happen after, honestly, but here I think I [will] be fine.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal is focused on the present, and as of Tuesday the present is being kind to him. He just took down his biggest rival and his foot is feeling good.

“I told you that in Rome that I [would] have my doctor here with me; that having the doctor here…helps,” the King of Clay commented. “So [this] is not the moment to talk about [my foot]. I said that we are gonna talk about that after the tournament when my tournament [is finished].

“But, yeah, I am putting everything that I have to try to play this tournament with the best conditions possible. I don’t know what can happen after (Roland-Garros), honestly, but here I think I [will] be fine.”

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