Rafa Nadal in sad call on French Open amid bombshell tennis admission at Madrid Open

Nadal has been battling injury ahead of a crack at a 15th French Open title.

Rafa Nadal has poured cold water over his French Open hopes after admitting that his physical condition will need to improve if he's to have a crack at a record-extending 15th Roland Garros title. The Spanish tennis legend has been battling to get back into shape after making his long-awaited return from injury at the Barcelona, where he lost in the second round to Alex de Minaur, who became the first Australian to defeat Nadal on clay.

The injury-plagued Nadal missed almost all of last year with a hip injury and looked understandably rusty in his first tournament since the Brisbane International in January. And he's now stepping up his French Open preparations at the Madrid Open clay court tournament. The 37-year-old Spaniard faces 16-year-old American wildcard Darwin Blanch in the first round on Friday (AEST) and made the bombshell admission that if his body felt like it does now, he wouldn't be playing in the French Open.

Rafa Nadal told reporters at the Madrid Open that he would not play the French Open in the condition he's in right now. Pic: Getty
Rafa Nadal told reporters at the Madrid Open that he would not play the French Open in the condition he's in right now. Pic: Getty

"If I was in Paris today, I wouldn't go out to play," Nadal told reporters at the Madrid Open in reference to the Roland Garros grand slam. "I don't think I'll be able to play at 100 per cent but it's important to be able to play for the last time in Madrid, it means a lot to me to play on this court where I've had some great moments."

"This doesn't mean I'm giving up on anything in the next few weeks, I don't know what might happen... "I'm going to do the things I have to do to be able to play in Paris. And if I can, I can and if I can't, I can't. I'm going to Paris if I feel like I'm good enough ... if I feel capable enough to compete...


"The world does not end with Roland-Garros, although it has been the most important tournament of my career. If I don’t play Paris, there are other tournaments there; there is an Olympics soon and other events. I am not going to do more than I feel capable of doing or have the desire to do.”

If Nadal gets past Blanch in the first round in Madrid, he will face de Minaur in the second round as the Aussie gets through with a bye in the first round. De Minaur will have the rare opportunity to complete the clay double over Nadal in the space of a week, having stunned him at the Barcelona Open.

Nadal is widely tipped to retire after the 2024 season, and has already indicated that this will be his last time competing at the Madrid Open. But the 37-year-old is desperate to give himself the best chance possible to get his body to a level where he feels comfortable enough to give potentially Roland Garros one last major shake-up.

"I am a competitive person and it is difficult to play without being able to give my best. If you ask me if I was happy in Barcelona, I say 'no, I wasn't happy'. What happens is that if I had tried to be happy in Barcelona today I probably wouldn't be here, that's the reality," Nadal said.

Seen here, Rafa Nadal and Alex de Minaur at the Barcelona Open.
Rafa Nadal lost his previous match on clay to Alex de Minaur at the Barcelona Open. Pic: Getty

"That's why I want to try to go out and play in Paris feeling capable enough to compete well. I'm going to do my best to try to make it happen, and if it doesn't I'll have the personal satisfaction and the gratitude for having tried. We'll see what happens... I don’t believe I’m prepared to play at 100% but I believe I’m prepared to go out and play tomorrow.”

with agencies