Rafael Nadal to enter ATP 250 tournament before Roland Garros in order to be ready for French Open?
“There is still a little bit of time” for Rafael Nadal to get in shape for his Roland Garros title defence, according to tennis pundit Alex Corretja.
Nadal, who has not played competitive tennis since January when he lost in the second round of the Australian Open, withdrew from next week’s Italian Open as he is still not 100% after injuring his hip at Melbourne Park.
Besides the Rome event, the 22-time Grand Slam winner also skipped the Monte Carlo Masters, Barcelona Open and Madrid Open.
Traditionally the Italian Open is the final clay-court tournament for big-name players before the French Open with many opting to rest the week before the red dirt Grand Slam.
Although two-time French Open finalist Corretja is surprised by Nadal’s latest announcement, he feels the 14-time Roland Garros champion could get some matches under his belt before heading to Paris.
“We need to wait, there’s still a little bit of time. I was thinking maybe he could play the week before and get some matches. But I didn’t expect that one from Rome,” he told Eurosport.
“I was surprised already when he pulled out from Madrid, but this one, everybody was saying he was pretty much okay to play, he’s practicing, and unfortunately, he said no so that means he still needs more time.”
Corretja added: “I think he’s capable to get the rhythm in a few matches. I’m not concerned about the playing or not playing, I’m more concerned physically – how is he going to recover from matches? Not from this injury, from other ones that can come up.
“When you don’t play for such a long time it’s so difficult because of all the things that can happen. I hope he can have a little bit of preparation for the tournament before, because if he plays two or three matches at Roland Garros, for two and a half or three hours…
“He can be ready for sure, he’s Rafa.”
Rafael Nadal’s options ahead of Roland Garros
Last year Nadal headed to Paris with only five matches under his belt on clay as he only played in three matches in Madrid and two in Italy.
If he is to get some minutes on clay before Roland Garros then he only has two options on the ATP Tour as there are two ATP 250 events scheduled for the week before the 2023 French Open – the Geneva Open and the Lyon Open.
The Switzerland event already has an impressive line-up as two-time Grand Slam finalist Casper Ruud headlines the field along with Taylor Fritz, Denis Shapovalov and Ben Shelton.
Over in France, world No 13 Casper Norrie as well as Tommy Paul and Jack Draper will feature in Lyon.
However, history suggests that Nadal is likely to spend time on the practice court instead of playing in the ATP 250 events.
READ MORE: Rafael Nadal out of Rome as injury woes continue ahead of French Open
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