Rafael Nadal says playing at Wimbledon unlikely as he targets Paris Olympics

Spaniard has struggled with injuries for last 18 months and was knocked out of French Open in first round on Monday

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Rafael Nadal has admitted that it is unlikely that he will risk playing at this year's Wimbledon after an injury-ravaged 18 months as he looks to regain full fitness in time for the Paris Olympics.

The Spaniard was knocked out in the first round of the French Open for the first time in his career on Monday when he was beaten in straight sets by fourth seed Alexander Zverev.

The 37-year-old missed almost all of 2023 with a hip problem and his comeback earlier this year was stalled by a muscle tear, before small niggles affected his preparation for the clay-court major where he is a 14-time champion.

The grass courts of Wimbledon are the next Grand Slam on the calendar, starting on July 1, quickly followed by a switch back to clay for the Olympic tennis tournament at Roland Garros that begins on July 27.

And it is this jumping between surfaces in a short period of time that concerns two-time Wimbledon winner Nadal, who has only played five tournaments since suffering a hip injury at the 2023 Australian Open.

“For me now [it] looks difficult to make a transition to grass, then having the Olympics again on clay,” said 22-time Slam winner Nadal, who is earmarked to play Olympic doubles with world No 3 and reigning Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz. “I cannot confirm anything. I need to talk with the team and analyse facts.

“But I don't think it's going to be smart after all the things that happened to my body to make a big transition to a completely different surface and then come back immediately to clay.

“I cannot tell you if I will be [playing] or not [playing] in one month and a half [at the Olympics], because my body has been a jungle for two years. You don't know what to expect. I wake up one day and I found a snake biting me. Another day a tiger.

“It has been a big fight with all the things that I went through, but the dynamic has been positive in the last few weeks.

“I need to give myself a little bit longer chance to see if my level is growing and my body is holding, and then let's make a decision. Give me two months until the Olympics, and then let's see if I am able to keep going or I say, 'OK guys, it's more than enough'. Let's see.”

In Tuesday's first-round action at a once again rain-interrupted Roland Garros, seventh seed Casper Ruud advanced with a straight-sets victory against Brazilian qualifier Felipe Meligeni Alves.

Ruud, who won clay-court titles in Barcelona and Geneva in the build-up to Roland Garros, cruised to a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 victory in just under two hours and will next face either Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain or Monegasque qualifier Valentin Vacherot.

The Norwegian was beaten in straight sets by Novak Djokovic in last year's final following a one-sided loss to Rafael Nadal in the 2022 showpiece.

Updated: May 28, 2024, 2:55 PM