Nadal eyes French Open bid despite early Rome exit at hands of Hurkacz


Nadal eyes French Open bid despite early Rome exit at hands of Hurkacz

Nadal and Hurkacz after the match
Nadal and Hurkacz after the matchReuters
Rafael Nadal (37) said Saturday that he is leaning towards playing at the upcoming French Open despite being eliminated in the second round in Rome, 6-1, 6-3 by Poland's Hubert Hurkacz (27).

Clay-court icon Nadal had previously said that he would only play at the French Open, where he has won a record 14 titles if he feels competitive after a raft of injury problems over the last two years which have left him languishing 305th in the world rankings.

And the manner of his elimination in his first-ever encounter with Hurkacz was a step backwards after reaching the last 16 in Madrid, leaving a question mark hanging over his plans.

"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," Nadal told reporters.

"Physically I have some issues, but not probably yet enough to say not playing in the most important event of my tennis career. Let's see what's going on, how I feel myself mentally tomorrow, after tomorrow, and in one week."

Nadal held his own in the first two games in the first set, which took 26 minutes to complete, but then fell away as errors handed Hurkacz points.

The veteran twice gave away breaks of serve with miscued drop shots in the first set which Hurkacz closed out in 49 minutes as he blew through five straight games.

And the match was as good as done when Hurkacz, who didn't drop a single service game, broke Nadal in the third game of the second set to set up a famous victory.

The level of dominance over Nadal on clay, much less a court where he has won a record 10 titles, would have been unimaginable a few short years ago.

Hurkacz will face Tomas Etcheverry in the third round after likely ending Nadal's love affair with Rome as the 22-time Grand Slam winner looks set to call time on his career at the end of the season.

However, tournament organisers told the media that Nadal turned down a post-match farewell celebration on court as Saturday's loss was likely his last appearance at the Foro Italico.

Nadal said that he was "98 per cent, not 100 per cent" sure that he would never again grace the Roman clay so would not accept the ceremony.


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