ROME – Rafael Nadal’s French Open tennis hopes appear to be hanging by a thread after the Spaniard injured a foot in his third-round loss to Denis Shapovalov at the Italian Open.
The 21-time grand slam champion was in obvious discomfort as he was bundled out of the clay court tournament by the Canadian, 1-6, 7-5, 6-2.
At one point, the 35-year-old walked over and leaned on his towel box and grimaced in pain. He also limped between points.
They were particularly concerning scenes for Nadal and his legion of fans, especially with the Spaniard’s favourite grand slam beginning at Roland Garros in just 10 days.
Nadal missed a large portion of last year with a left foot injury.
“I hurt my foot again with a lot of pain,” Nadal revealed after the match.
“I’m a player living with an injury. It’s nothing new. It’s something that is there, unfortunately. Day by day is difficult.
“Lots of days I can’t practise with the proper way again.”
Nadal returned to the tour last week following a rib stress fracture that kept him out for six weeks after a blistering start to the year that included his record 21st grand slam title at the Australian Open.
Nadal was also beaten by 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz in the quarter-finals of last week’s Madrid Open.
Fans were gutted watching Nadal battle through obvious pain against Shapovalov, with many fearing what ramifications his latest injury might have.
The 35-year-old missed the bulk of last season due to the foot problem before mounting a remarkable comeback to win the Australian Open in January and also prevailing in Acapulco.
“Since I came back, the foot has been tough,” added the Spaniard. “Negative thing and toughest thing for me today is honestly I started to feel myself play much better. I started the match playing much better.”
Nadal’s preparation heading into the French Open, where he will be bidding for a record-extending 14th title, has been far from ideal after he was also knocked out of last week’s Madrid Open by Alcaraz at the quarter-finals stage.
“First thing that I need to do is to don’t have pain to practice… it’s true that during the French Open, Roland Garros, I going to have my doctor there with me. That sometimes helps because you can do things,” said Nadal.
“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.” – Yahoo Sport.