Rafael Nadal out of Rome as injury woes continue ahead of French Open

Rafael Nadal unhappy

Former World No 1 Rafael Nadal on Friday withdrew from the Rome Masters tournament as he continues his recovery from injury.

The announcement has cast serious doubts over his fitness for the French Open later this month in Paris.

The 22-time Grand Slam winner has not played since he suffered a left hip-flexor injury at the Australian Open in January in a loss to Mackenzie McDonald.

The French Open, which the 36-year-old Spanish icon has won on 14 occasions, gets underway in Paris in just three weeks.

Nadal said his injury situation has improved in the past few days but not sufficiently to be able to compete next week in the Italian capital.

“I am very sorry to announce that I will not be able to be in Rome,” Nadal wrote on his social media accounts.

“You all know how much it hurts me to miss another of the tournaments that have marked my professional and personal career because of all the love and support of the Italian tifosi (fans).

“Although I have noticed an improvement in the last few days, it has been many months without being able to train at a high level and the process of readjustment takes a certain amount of time, and I have no choice but to accept that and continue working.”

The 22-time Grand Slam champion — he shares the men’s record for most Majors with Novak Djokovic — had originally thought he would be out for up to two months.

He pulled out of hard-court tournaments at Indian Wells and Miami, with his sights set on a return at the start of the clay-court season, but it did not come to fruition.

Nadal had to withdraw from events in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid, before eventually adding Rome, the final big French Open warm-up event, to the list.

Coach Carlos Moya believes that Nadal can still mount a serious challenge in Paris even if he doesn’t have a lot of matches under his belt.

“We are a bit sad for not having been able to debut in the clay court season yet,” Moya said.

“The one who is going through the worst is him, but we try to encourage him and we are always optimistic. He continues to be confident, with Rafa you can always expect him to be I pulled a rabbit out of the hat.

That’s why I think it’s always been an urban legend that Nadal needs a lot of matches to be ready, when he has returned from injury he has always achieved good results.”