Boris Becker ‘worried’ about ‘icon’ Rafael Nadal’s French Open chances

Rafael Nadal unhappy

Tennis great Boris Becker has expressed his concern over Rafael Nadal’s prospects at the 2023 French Open given the Spaniard’s injury-hit preparation.

The six-time Grand Slam champion also hailed the 36-year-old’s importance to tennis and lauded his “unique performance” throughout his career.

Nadal has been hindered by physical issues since winning a record-extending 14th French Open title in June last year. The Mallorcan has played just 18 matches across seven tour-level events since beating Casper Ruud in the championship match at the Paris Grand Slam.

The world No 14 suffered an abdominal tear that forced him to withdraw ahead of his 2022 Wimbledon semi-final with Nick Kyrgios. The effects of this injury seemed to hamper him for the remainder of the season.

Nadal then sustained a hip injury at the Australian Open in January and has not competed since. The Spaniard is, though, expected to play the French Open, which begins on May 28.

Becker, a three-time French Open semi-finalist, spoke of Nadal’s recent absence and concerns that this year’s Roland Garros could be his final event in an interview with Eurosport.

“All Nadal fans, and I’m one of them, are worried. 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,” said the German.

“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.

“If Paris really is his last [tournament], that would be negative news about Rafael. 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.”

The former world No 1 stressed the importance of competitive action for Nadal, as well as praising what he has done for tennis and sport in general.

“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.

“Rafa is not a sports hero, but an icon. 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.”

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