Iga Swiatek on Rafael Nadal potentially ‘suffering’ – ‘It’s not going to be so fun to see him like that’

Rafael Nadal and Iga Swiatek at training

Iga Swiatek admits she is in two minds about Rafael Nadal playing at Roland Garros this year as she “doesn’t want to see him suffering a lot”.

There are major doubts over Nadal’s French Open title defence as he continues to struggle with the hip injury he sustained during his second-round defeat at the Australian Open in mid-January.

He is yet to play any matches on clay so far this year – in fact he has only played four matches in 2023 – and one thing is clear if he does play in Paris then he will head there without any competitive game time on the red dirt as he turned down a chance to play in this week’s ATP Challenger Tour event in Bordeaux with his team admitting he is “in a race against time”.

World No 1 Swiatek has always been a big fan of Nadal and would love to see the 14-time champion play at Roland Garros, but she doesn’t want it to be at the expense of his health.

“I’m a big Rafa fan. For sure I wish he could play,” she said. “But honestly, like, I really, really respect what kind of warrior he is. He’s always trying to push and trying to get better and play better and just trying to compete on the highest level.

“But on the other hand I don’t know how much, like, pain he’s living with. I don’t want to, like, see him suffering a lot. I’m kind of like biased because I would love to see him play, but on the other hand I know if he’s going to really, like, suffer, it’s not going to be so fun to see him like that.

“I just hope he’s going to kind of be healthy and happy. That’s like the main goal no matter what happens with tennis.”

Nadal, though, was also undercooked ahead of last year’s French Open as he played only five matches on clay before the tournament due to his long-standing foot problem. Yet, he went all the way as he defeated Novak Djokovic in the quarter-final and Casper Ruud in the final.

The 14-time champion holds a 112–3 record on the hallowed Paris courts with Djokovic (2) and Robin Soderling the only men to beat him at the clay-court Grand Slam since he made his debut in 2005.

READ MORE: Rafael Nadal can’t be underestimated at Roland Garros – ‘I made the mistake of doubting him’