The Spaniard remains hopeful that he can get his game – and fitness – where it needs to be ahead of Roland-Garros. By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Friday May 13, 2022
Rafael Nadal finds himself under the gun after his ongoing battle with a left foot issue got the best of him in Rome on Thursday. The Spaniard, who called the pain he felt “crazy,” fell to Denis Shapovalov in three sets in round of 16 action at the Foro Italico.
After his loss Nadal expressed hope that he can conquer the issue in less than two weeks, when Roland-Garros begins.
“I still [have] a goal in one week and a couple of days,” Nadal told reporters immediately after his match. “I going to keep dreaming about that goal.”
The left foot was the culprit that caused Nadal to shut down his 2021 season last summer, and it has remained a problem since. Nadal says the issue has hindered his practice since he returned from the rib injury that forced him to miss Monte-Carlo and Barcelona.
"Days like today, just accept and try to keep going. Even if sometimes it's not easy for me."@RafaelNadal speaks following his third round loss to Shapovalov in Rome. #IBI22 pic.twitter.com/geX1pHGPYa
— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) May 12, 2022
“I am not injured,” Nadal stressed on Thursday. “I am a player living with an injury. That’s it. No, no, is nothing new. It’s something that is there.
“Since I came back, the foot have been tough, being honest, no?” Nadal said. “It’s tough for me to be able to practice 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 practice. Then things becomes much more difficult.”
Nadal said the injury is rearing its head at a tough time, because he felt that he was finally dialing in his pulsating clay-court game, during the most important moments of his season.
“Negative thing and toughest thing for me today is honestly I start to feel myself play much better,” he said. “I started the match playing much better. My practice was much better, the warmup, than the other day. I feel sad about that, that I started to feel again a lot of positive things. But then when these kind of stuff happens, the rest of the things, the rest of the positive things disappears, no?”
But there is hope for the Spaniard. First, he’s been through this issue before. Second he will have his doctor by his side to help manage his pain in Paris. Nadal believes that things can turn around quickly for him, and he is holding out hope that he will start to feel better in practice as Roland Garros approaches.
“It’s true that during the French Open, Roland Garros, I going to have my doctor there with me,” he said. “That sometime helps because you can do things.”
As always Nadal will continue to work for his goals, and not overreact to the situation. He’s methodical, he’s experienced, and he won’t quit on his dream of winning Roland-Garros for a 14th time.