Rafa Nadal in sad French Open call as tennis great makes unwanted history at Italian Open

Nadal was swept aside with ease 6-1 6-3 by Hubert Hurkacz at the Italian Open.

Just a fortnight out from the French Open, Rafa Nadal says he may pull the pin on playing in what is likely his final trip to Roland Garros. On Saturday, Nadal was swept aside with ease 6-1 6-3 by Hubert Hurkacz at the Italian Open, in a performance that has the Spanish tennis legend questioning everything.

The loss left Nadal so unsatisfied with his level of tennis that he has cast doubt over whether he will even attempt to win his 15th Roland Garros title. The tennis great has been battling to get back into shape after making his long-awaited return from injury at Barcelona, where he lost in the second round to Alex de Minaur.

Rafa Nadal pictured
Rafa Nadal was swept aside with ease 6-1 6-3 by Hubert Hurkacz at the Italian Open. Image: Getty

He then competed at the Madrid Open where he suffered a tough loss in the round of 16 before making the third round of the Italian Open. And in what was his first match against a top-10 player since his return from injury, Nadal was badly outgunned, with Hurcacz barely getting out of first gear as he beat the Spanish great in straight sets.

Nadal's surgically repaired hip and his 37-year-old legs couldn't handle the World No.9's movement and ball striking, as he overwhelmed the 'King of Clay'. Against the big-serving Hurkacz, Nadal appeared slow and lacked the ruthless edge to finish off points that have been a trademark of his tennis career.

And twice in the first set, Nadal missed drop shot attempts to hand Hurkacz breaks of serve, uncharacteristic errors for the tennis legend. The loss also saw Nadal make unwanted history, with the amount of games won his least in 21 years on clay.

TOPSHOT - Spain's Rafael Nadal (L) looks dejected after being eliminated by Poland's Hubert Hurkacz during the Men's ATP Rome Open tennis tournament at Foro Italico in Rome on May 11, 2024. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP) (Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty Images)
Rafa Nadal was badly outgunned by Poland's Hubert Hurkacz at the Rome Open. Image: Getty

The Spaniard won just four games, the equal lowest of his clay career with that of his 2003 defeat to Gaston Gaudio in Hamburg when he was only 16. Following the match an understandably devastated Nadal said he needs to consider if the French Open is a realistic target.

"Tough day for me in all ways because I felt more ready than what I showed," Nadal said. "I am a little bit more unpredictable today, not playing enough for the last two years. Too many doubts."


The final lead-up tournament until Roland Garros is in Paris next week and Nadal is weighing up whether to compete there or pull the pin. "One (option) is to say, 'OK, I am not ready, I am not playing enough well," Nadal said.

"Another is to accept how I am today and work the proper way to try to be in a different way in two weeks. The decision, as you can imagine, is not clear in my mind today. But if I have to say what's my feeling and if my mind is closer one way or the other way, I going to say be in Roland Garros and try my best. Physically, I have some issues, but not probably yet enough to say not playing in the most important event of my tennis career."

The injury-plagued Nadal missed almost all of last year with a hip injury and has looked understandably rusty since returning to the court in recent weeks. And despite being a 'fighter', Nadal admits that a French Open bid 'seems impossible'.

"Let's see what's going on, how I feel myself mentally tomorrow, after tomorrow, and in one week. If I feel ready, I going to try to be there and fight for the things that I have been fighting the last 15 years, if now seems impossible."