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Nadal: No farewell just yet and he is keen on continuing

Rafael Nadal and training partner Marc Lopez have been adamant about the fact that even though Nadal has been struggling with an injury, it doesn’t mean that he is close to stopping.

Rafael Nadal, Roland-Garros 2022 Rafael Nadal, Roland-Garros 2022 © MAO / Panoramic

Rafael Nadal sent his millions of fans into a state of panic when he suggested last weekend that his quarter-final with Novak Djokovic might be the last match of his likely never-to-be-replicated Roland-Garros career

But Rafa fans, you can breathe easier. 

Nadal is keen to keep playing, despite dealing with a chronic left foot condition since his early days and one that flared up in Rome last month. 

Another positive? Marc Lopez, his good friend and co-coach, seemed to believe that Nadal’s foot would hold up for the duration of this Roland-Garros.

“There is no intention to look like this is a farewell,” Nadal told Spanish broadcaster TVE after engineering a stunning performance in Tuesday’s night session to topple Djokovic in four sets. “There is just a reality happening and a reality that could happen. 

“We are continuing to work in order to find solutions” for the foot. 

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal vs Novak Djokovic (Mao/Panoramic)

Another Spanish outlet, AS, reported that Nadal would discuss his foot further after the tournament ends. This has been confirmed to Tennis Majors. 

“I’m confident…” Nadal continued to TVE. “But if you look at one year back, things were different weren’t they? I had three good months this year but last year was tremendously difficult.” 

Lopez, addressing Nadal’s current plight, said to Spanish broadcaster COPE: “I trust that the foot will last until Sunday.”

Going back to Nadal’s tough last year, the 13-time Roland-Garros champion fell to Djokovic in a late-night thriller at the clay-court major in 2021. 

REFLECTIONS OF 2021

He appeared to struggle with his foot in the fourth and final set, then skipped Wimbledon altogether. 

Nadal — who turns 36 on Friday when he faces third-seed Alexander Zverev — returned in Washington on the hard courts but after a third-round defeat to Lloyd Harris, didn’t play again for the rest of the campaign. 

He enjoyed a miraculous comeback during the Australian summer, rallying from two sets down to upset Daniil Medvedev in the finale to win a men’s record 21st major at the Australian Open. 

But a rib injury, then the foot disturbance in the Italian capital in a loss to Denis Shapovalov, led to more soul searching. 

“It’s a day to day process, and more and more difficult to just be competitive,” said Nadal, who is in Paris with his doctor, Angel Ruiz Cotorro. 

“Being competitive is the only thing making me happy after all. Everything is more and more complicated. Yet I enjoy the moment and from there we will continue to think about what we can to solve the problem, with the hope to continue.”

Different feelings last weekend

The mood seemed different on Sunday.

Nadal was taken to a fifth set at Roland-Garros for only the third time and said after escaping against Shapovalov’s fellow seeded Canadian, Felix Auger-Aliassime: “Two weeks and a half ago, even if I had good hopes, positive hopes after Rome, I even don’t know if I would be able to be here.

“So just enjoying the fact that I am here for one more year. And being honest, every match that I play here, I don’t know if gonna be my last match here in Roland Garros in my tennis career, no?”

The battle with Djokovic, the 20-time Grand Slam winner, might not be the last Roland-Garros one after all. 

Nadal appeared in difficulty when Djokovic won the second set, after trailing by a set and two breaks. 

But he took the next two sets, with world No. 1 Djokovic letting slip a 5-2 lead and two set points in the fourth. 

Ominously for the rest of the field — besides those 13 titles — Nadal has won every Grand Slam he has played when beating a world No. 1, nine, to be more exact.  

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