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Other SportsRafael Nadal to play at Barcelona Open – but tennis great says...

Rafael Nadal to play at Barcelona Open – but tennis great says 2024 French Open is “difficult to plan”

Rafael Nadal will play his first competitive tennis since January at the Barcelona Open this week, the 12-time winner of the tournament has announced.

Spaniard Nadal is the most successful player in history at Barcelona but is cautious about his latest comeback, when he will face world number 62 Flavio Cobolli in the first round, and says he cannot plan for the 2024 French Open, which begins on May 20.

“On a personal level, being in Barcelona is a gift,” said Nadal, whose appearance after almost a year out at the Brisbane International more than three months ago ended in the 37-year-old sustaining a muscle tear.

“I don’t want to say that I have a problem here or a problem there. The worst thing that could happen is that I won’t be able to play anymore.

“I’m coming back from two difficult years – my body doesn’t let me follow the schedule.”

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The clay specialist has been beset by physical issues including a hip injury and a foot problem, as well as withdrawing from the semi-finals of Wimbledon 2022 with an abdominal injury.

Nadal has hinted that he could retire this year and would surely love at least one more appearance at Roland Garros, where he holds a record 14 titles.

Nadal: French Open ‘day by day’

Now ranked 644th, Nadal won four of the five editions of the French grand slam between 2017 and 2022.

That spectacular record took him to 22 major titles, making him the second-most successful male player of all time behind Novak Djokovic, who has 24 grand slam victories.

“It’s difficult for me to plan,” said the two-time Olympic Games champion. “I take it day by day. There are a lot of bad days physically and mentally.

“The good days help compensate and I still have fun when I play tennis, which is why I keep hoping to continue playing.”

Italian Cobolli has never encountered Nadal. The 21-year-old turned professional in 2020 and is yet to win an ATP Tour title.

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