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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Wednesday, April 24, 2024


"f I arrive in Paris feeling the way I feel today, I won't be playing. And if I can't play the French Open, the most important tournament of my career, it won't stop there," Rafael Nadal told the media in Madrid today.

Photo credit: Jose Oliva Europa Press Getty

Rafael Nadal will make Mutua Madrid Open farewell and manage a multi-tasking test this week.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion says he's pumped to play his Madrid farewell and is "hitting the ball pretty well" in practice, but concedes he's not 100 percent physically and would not be fit enough to play Roland Garros if it started today.

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Meeting the media in Madrid today ahead of his opening-round clash vs. 16-year-old American wild card Darwin Blanch, Nadal shared his views on the state of his health and his game.

"I'm hitting the ball pretty well. It's more about physical limitations," Nadal told the media in Madrid. "I've been through a lot in the last couple of years so the feeling isn't good enough for me to play freely.

"It doesn't allow me to play the way I'd like to. I can't say anything else, that would be lying."

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Last week, Nadal launched his comeback from a microtear in the muscle surrounding his surgically-repaired hip in Barcelona.

Playing his first match in 103 days, king of clay Nadal defeated world No. 62 Flavio Cobolli 6-2, 6-3, in his Barcelona comeback to raise his career clay-court record to 475-45.

The next day, Monte-Carlo quarterfinalist Alex de Minaur broke serve five times and won eight of the last nine games defeating Nadal 7-5, 6-1 to make history as the first Aussie to ever beat the 14-time French Open champion on clay.

While making his Madrid farewell this week, Nadal will be extra-attentive to his body as he aims to sustain health so he can post for Paris.

"I don't know what's going to happen in the next few weeks. I'm going to do everything I can to be able to play in Paris," Nadal said. "And if it's not possible, it's not possible.

"If I arrive in Paris feeling the way I feel today, I won't be playing. And if I can't play the French Open, the most important tournament of my career, it won't stop there. I have other goals, like the Olympics.

"I'm a competitor and, in my mind, it's hard to play without being able to give it my all. What I've enjoyed the most in my career, beyond winning, is fighting. I always want to walk off the court feeling like I've done everything in my power to make things go well. I very rarely went home thinking it hadn't happened."

If Nadal beats Branch in his opener, he would face the 10th-seeded de Minaur in a Madrid rematch.

A candid Nadal said his comeback has evoked mixed emotions. At times, he feels inspired seeing his level match up against the elite in practice, while at other times he feels limited by his surgically-repaired 37-year-old body.

Regardless of how his health holds up, Nadal said he expects two things from his Madrid experience:

1. He will feel very emotional bidding farewell to Madrid fans.

2. Tapping into the warrior within, he will fight with all he's got and aims to give a grand and gritty good-bye to Spanish fans.


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"At moments I feel myself enjoying playing on court, practicing against the best players again. I'm feeling myself more or less competitive," Nadal said. "Other moments I feel limitations, and then it's difficult, no?

"Because at the end, when you say I would love to be here even if it's the last chance that for playing here, I would love to be here and just saying, Okay, I am here and I am good enough. Even if it's my last time, I'm going to try my best to have the best result possible.

"Unfortunately today I can't say that, but I can say a feeling that is very important for me too emotionally is I'm going to be on court tomorrow. Few weeks, I didn't know if I will be able to play again on the professional tour, so today I am playing. It's not perfect, of course not perfect, but at least I am playing and I can enjoy again, especially in the few tournaments that are so emotional for me. I'm able to enjoy the fun that I can say probably good-bye on court."


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