Rafael Nadal has revealed he will have his doctor alongside him when he competes at the French Open later this month. The Spaniard hobbled through half of his defeat by Denis Shapovalov at the Rome Masters as a chronic foot injury flared up again.
Nadal stormed into a 6-1 lead over Shapovalov in Italy and looked on course to cruise into the quarter-final. However, the 35-year-old was clearly impeded midway through the second and then appeared to struggle through the third.
Shapovalov eventually won 1-6 7-5 6-2. The Canadian will play Casper Ruud in the last eight on Friday.
But for Nadal, his hopes of mounting a challenge for an incredible 14th French Open have taken a hit. A doctor will accompany him at Roland-Garros as the star targets a 22nd Grand Slam.
“First thing that I need to do is to [not] have pain to practise, that’s it… It’s true that during the French Open, Roland Garros, I’m going to have my doctor there with me. That sometimes helps because you can do things,” Nadal said after losing to Shapovalov.
“In the positive days and in the negative days, you need to stay and to value all the things that happened to me in a positive way. Then days like today (Thursday), just accept and try to keep going even if sometimes it’s not easy for me.”
Nadal has opened up on his struggles with his foot problem. The world no. 4 has revealed that it is tough to train without feeling pain. He has until May 22 – the French Open start date – to fully recover.
I had my foot again with a lot of pain. I am a player living with an injury – it is nothing new. It’s something that is there,” Nadal continued.
“Unfortunately my day-by-day is difficult. It’s difficult for me to accept the situation sometimes. At half the second set, it starts and then it wasn’t playable for me. I don’t want to take away anything from Denis. Today is for him. Well done for him.
“Since I came back, the foot has been tough. It’s tough for me to be able to practise the proper way days in a row. So then you need to move well to compete at the highest level, something that I am not able to practise.
“The toughest thing for me today is honestly I start to feel myself play much better. I started the match playing much better. My practice was much better, the warmup, than the other day.”