Rafael Nadal not closing door on French Open

League: Tennis

Posted on: 25 May, 2024 at 03:47 PM

Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

Rafael Nadal isn't ready to say "au revoir" to Roland Garros, his personal playground.

After all, he's won the men's singles portion at the French Open on the clay courts in Paris a record 14 times. Given Nadal's previous comments on the topic of retirement, it had been thought that 2024 would be his last go-round at his favorite Grand Slam event.

Not so fast, Nadal said Saturday.

"In some way I don't want to close 100 percent the door," said Nadal, who turns 38 next month, and has been limited by injuries since the start of the 2023 season.

The Spaniard won at Roland Garros in 2022 but didn't play last year at the French Open, won by Novak Djokovic.

But his current condition gives Nadal hope.

"Physically I feel better," he said. "I am improving in different ways and I have less limitations than three or four weeks ago.

"I am grateful I am able to be in Roland Garros and give myself a chance to play at least one more time here -- maybe the last one, maybe not."

Nadal owns 22 Grand Slam titles and would love nothing more than to add another one in Paris. But he drew an exceptionally tough first-round opponent, Alexander Zverev of Germany, the fourth seed.

Zverev is coming off the clay-court title in Rome. Nadal was defeated by Hubert Hurkacz of Poland, the eighth seed at the French Open, in the second round in Rome.

"I am happy the way that I am practicing here," Nadal said. "I know I have a super tough first round, one of the toughest possible, but that's what happens when you are not seeded."

Nadal is ranked No. 276 in the world. Because of injuries to his hip and abdomen, he has competed in just 11 matches since the Australian Open in January 2023.

Zverev said he is looking forward to Monday's first-round match, but it isn't an ideal draw for him, either.

"I would have liked to play him in the later stage of the tournament, but it is how it is now," said Zverev, who is seeking his first Grand Slam victory. "He is unseeded this year. I am seeded. You know, it's a tough draw, but it's a tough draw for both of us. We'll see how it goes on Monday."

--Field Level Media