Rafael Nadal is fighting against the clock to be fit to defend his French Open crown, and Boris Becker is “worried” about the Spaniard’s chances.
In an exclusive interview with Eurosport, Becker admitted something “really bad” must have happened for Nadal to miss tournaments on his favourite clay surface in preparation for Roland-Garros.
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“All Nadal fans, and I’m one of them, are worried,” he said. “It happens that he is injured. After his injury in Melbourne, it was said that he would be fit again for the clay-court season. That was not the case.
“If Nadal cancels the clay-court tournaments in preparation for Roland-Garros, something really bad must have happened.
“I really hope he can at least compete in Paris. That would at least be good news.”
The 36-year-old has won a record 14 French Open titles, with his most-recent triumph coming last year when he battled past Casper Ruud 6-3 6-3 6-0 in the final.
Even then, the “King of Clay” had navigated his way through numerous injury problems and concerns to win a 22nd career Grand Slam.
“If Paris really is his last [tournament], that would be negative news about Rafael,” Becker responded when asked if the French Open could be his last tournament. “Let’s hope that Corrado Barazzutti is not right in this case.
“A player always has to decide for himself which is his last tournament – and I sincerely hope that for Rafa it won’t be the Roland-Garros tournament this year.”
PARIS, FRANCE JUNE 5. Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts to his victory against Casper Rudd of Norway during the Singles Final for Men on Court Philippe Chatrier at the 2022 French Open Tennis Tournament at Roland Garros on June 5th 2022 in Paris, France. (Phot
Image credit: Eurosport
If Nadal was to make a comeback in time for the French Open which begins later this month, he won’t have much time – if any – to prepare in the way he should, according to Becker.
Becker said: “Like every top player, Rafa needs match experience, which you don’t get in practice.
“You can practice for four or five hours, but the tension, dealing with spectators and umpires, or how to play four or five matches in a row – you only get all that in tournament mode.”
Although Nadal’s chances of being fully fit for a 19th French Open campaign are dwindling, Becker still has confidence in one of the “greatest fighters we have ever seen.”
“Rafa is not a sports hero, but an icon,” he said. “He has changed the sport of tennis significantly.
“No one has ever played tennis like Rafael Nadal – let alone been so successful. This is also evident in his attitude. He is one of the fairest players in the world, one of the greatest fighters we have ever seen.
“And the fact that he won Wimbledon twice as the “King of Clay” and was also successful in the other Grand Slam tournaments shows his unique performance over almost two decades.
He added: “I can still remember the first time he won in Paris with his very exhausting style of play. People said that this way of playing was much too strenuous, that he would never make it in the long run.
“Yes, we all were wrong. He proved us completely different. He is an absolute icon of the sport.”
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