Rafael Nadal has described his body as “an old machine” ahead of his Italian Open clash with John Isner on Wednesday. Nadal has struggled with injury following a memorable triumph at the Australian Open back in January, which saw him beat Daniil Medvedev in the final and clinch a record 21st Grand Slam title.
With the second Grand Slam tournament of the year, the French Open, set to begin later this month, Nadal has opened up about his fitness problems. Speaking to reporters ahead of the Italian Open, Nadal said: “When you’re six weeks without touching a racket and having the chance to move your body… my body is like an old machine.
“To put this machine on again it takes some time. It’s not the same when you’re 19 than when you are almost 36, with all the issues I went through in my career.
“You need to build again the confidence, your movements, then you start feeling comfortable with your tennis. It’s more about being confident with my movements, recover the speed, recover the way that I have to play on clay and let’s see.
“I’m confident that I can play well. I need time, but maybe this week can be a positive week, maybe not. Who knows?”
Nadal has won a record 13 French Open titles and is hoping to be fully ready in time for this year’s tournament, which gets underway on May 22. “That’s my goal… I didn’t have another chance to approach this clay-court season with the things I went through,” he said. “I’m going to give myself a chance and we’ll see what’s going on.”
Nadal was most recently knocked out of the Madrid Open in the quarter-finals by his compatriot Carlos Alcaraz, who went on to win the tournament with 6-3, 6-1 victory over Alexander Zverev in the final. Speaking after his elimination, Nadal said of the 19-year-old: “First, I think he is young, he is new and all the new things are much more interesting than older things
“Without a doubt, when you see a new car, always looks better. When you see a new phone, always looks better than the old ones. So, it’s something that is normal in this life. I can’t complain at all about that. At the same time, I am happy to have somebody like him from my country achieving all the things that he is achieving.
“Of course, at my age, when you start having more problems than what you can manage, of course it is tough. Body issues, pains, you can manage that. The problem is when you start to feel that with all the things that’s going through your body, you can’t be competitive enough to fight for the things that really keep exciting you.”