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Nadal returns to Roland Garros to practice amid doubts over fitness and form

PARIS (AP) — Rafael Nadal returned to Roland Garros on Monday to practice and try to figure out whether to compete at the French Open, a tournament he has won a record 14 times.

The 37-year-old Spaniard showed up late in the afternoon with his coach, Carlos Moya, and a couple of sparring partners at Court Philippe Chatrier, which was open to the public.

About 6,000 fans were there at the French Open’s main stadium, cheering loudly as Nadal stepped onto the court. After the practice, which lasted about an hour and a half, Nadal signed several autographs before disappearing through a doorway and into a tunnel that leads toward the locker rooms.

The training session gave Nadal a chance to reacquaint himself with the red clay at Roland Garros — he hasn’t played a match there in two years — and test his fitness.

The tournament begins on Sunday and it remains uncertain if Nadal will enter.

He is still regaining his match readiness after missing nearly all of 2023 with a hip injury that required surgery, and much of this season because of problems with a hip muscle and an abdominal muscle.

His recent loss in his second match at the Italian Open — 6-1, 6-3 against Hubert Hurkacz — left Nadal unsure about whether he would consider himself ready for the French Open.

“Let’s see what’s going on, how I feel myself mentally tomorrow, after tomorrow, and in one week,” Nadal said in Rome. “If I feel ready, I (am) going to try to be there and fight for the things that I have been fighting (for for) the last 15 years, (even) if now (that) seems impossible.”

As of Monday, Nadal still had not announced whether or not he would play in Paris. This is expected to be his final season on tour — and so this would be his final appearance at a tournament he has won more times than any other tennis player has won any Grand Slam title.

He won the French Open in 2022 for his 22nd major championship overall, which ranks second among men to Novak Djokovic’s 24.

Nadal missed the French Open last year because of the hip.


AP tennis: https://ift.tt/o7V8Ryv

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