Rafael Nadal returns to Roland Garros for practice amid uncertainty about fitness and form

PARIS (AP) — Rafael Nadal returned to Roland Garros on Monday to practice and assess his readiness to compete in the French Open, an event he has won 14 times.

The 37-year-old Spanish tennis player arrived at Court Philippe Chatrier in the afternoon with his coach, Carlos Moya, and a few sparring partners. The practice session was open to the public, with around 6,000 fans present cheering loudly as Nadal took to the court. After the hour and a half session, he signed autographs for fans before heading towards the locker rooms.

The training session allowed Nadal to reacquaint himself with the clay courts of Roland Garros, where he hasn't played a competitive match in two years, and assess his physical condition.

The French Open is set to start on Sunday, but it is uncertain whether Nadal will participate.

Nadal is still working on regaining match fitness after being sidelined for most of 2023 due to a hip injury that required surgery, as well as dealing with issues related to a hip muscle and an abdominal muscle this season. His recent defeat at the Italian Open, losing in the second round 6-1, 6-3 to Hubert Hurkacz, has left him questioning his readiness for the French Open.

"Let's see how I feel mentally in the coming days and in a week. If I feel ready, I will try to compete and continue fighting for the goals I have been pursuing for the past 15 years, even though it may seem impossible now," Nadal stated during the Rome tournament.

As of Monday, Nadal had not confirmed his participation in the French Open. This is expected to be his final season on tour, making it potentially his last appearance at a tournament where he has set a record for the most wins of any player at a single Grand Slam event. He secured his 22nd major title with a victory at the French Open in 2022, which is second only to Novak Djokovic's 24.

Nadal had to skip the French Open last year due to his hip injury.


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