Rafa Nadal at centre of worrying update ahead of French Open deadline
The 22-time grand slam champion's announcement is expected this week.
Rafa Nadal has turned down the opportunity to play in a Challenger event ahead of the French Open with the Spaniard apparently in a 'race against time' to take part in the grand slam. Nadal has not stepped onto court for a competitive match for more than four months in 2023 having suffered an injury during the Australian Open.
Fans have been hanging onto every little update that could suggest a potential Nadal comeback on clay after he pulled out of Indian Wells. However, Nadal withdrew from Monte Carlo, before making the announcement he wouldn't make Barcelona or the Madrid Open.
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Nadal had one Masters event left before Roland Garros, but withdrew from the ongoing Italian Open. This has left the 14-time French Open champ no big tournament to play if he is going to make an astonishing appearance at his favourite grand slam.
And the latest update does not bode well for the Spaniard having turned down a Challenger event wildcard. The clay court event director of this week's Challenger event in Bordeaux said he contacted Nadal's agent to see if the 36-year-old wanted a warm-up tournament before Paris.
However, according to L'Equipe, Nadal's agent said the Spaniard was in a 'race against time' to be fit for Roland Garros. "I offered him [Nadal's agent Carlos Costa] one of the wild cards," Jean-Baptiste Perlant told the French publication.
"He very kindly told me that Nadal was continuing his preparation at home in Manacor, that he was not ready and was in a race against time to be ready for the French Open."
This is a worrying sign for Nadal who is the reigning French Open champion. Nadal has been training in his home town in an attempt to be fit for the tournament as fans become more concerned.
The French Open starts on 22 May and Nadal will most likely announce his intention to play or withdraw before the main draw. While Nadal is struggling, he isn't the only champion fighting injury.
Novak Djokovic battles elbow injury ahead of French Open
Novak Djokovic returned this week to the Italian Open after skipping the Madrid Open due to an elbow injury. The 22-time grad slam champion hasn't started the clay court season as he would have hoped with a 2-2 record before Rome.
The Serbian is starting to build momentum leading into Paris having defeated Grigor Dimitrov in the round of 32 in Rome in a three-set battle. Although the match wasn't without its drama.
Djokovic looked to be cruising to a straight sets win, before Dimitrov roared back in the second. The current World No.1 held his nerve and let out a strong roar during the match to show that he will still be considered one of the strong favourites when he heads to Paris.
His persistent elbow injury is a concern, but won't be enough to halt Djokovic turning up to Paris in an attempt to become the first male player ever to reach 23 grand slam titles.
However, young Spaniard Carloz Alcaraz will head into Paris as the favourite, for most tennis fans, with the 20-year-old - who will take the World No.1 spot after Rome - in formidable form. Alcaraz has already won the Barcelona and Madrid Open and is in the round of 16 in Rome.
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