RAFAEL NADAL has not competed since January because of a hip injury. He is expected to announce Thursday whether that absence will include the French Open, a tournament he has won a record 14 times.
Nadal’s manager, Benito Perez-Barbadillo, said Wednesday that Nadal would speak to the media at his tennis academy in Manacor, Spain, “about his participation in Roland Garros.”
Nadal has never missed the French Open since winning the title there when he made his debut in 2005.
Several sports outlets based in Spain said Wednesday that Nadal would not be competing at the the clay-court Grand Slam tournament in Paris, where main-draw play begins May 28. None of the reports cited a specific source.
Nadal has been sidelined since hurting his left hip flexor during a second-round loss at the Australian Open on January 18. An MRI exam the next day revealed the extent of the injury, and Perez-Barbadillo said at the time that Nadal was expected to need up to two months to fully recover. He initially aimed to return at the Monte Carlo Masters in March on his beloved red clay, but he wasn’t able to play there, then subsequently sat out tournament after tournament, decreasing the likelihood that he would be fully fit in time for the French Open.
But for Nadal, missing other tournaments does not resonate the way missing the French Open would.
He is 112-3 across 18 appearances there, a level of dominance unmatched by any man or woman at any Grand Slam event in the long annals of a sport that dates to the 1800s. When Nadal won the trophy in Paris last year at age 36 while dealing with chronic foot pain, he became the oldest champion in tournament history.
Nadal is just 1-3 this season. He has dropped seven of his past nine matches overall, dating to a fourth-round loss to Frances Tiafoe in the US Open’s fourth round last September.
Image credits: AP