Rafael Nadal gives French Open fitness update: ‘Three weeks are enough to get competitive’

French Open
Rafael Nadal plays a shot

Rafael Nadal has not hit a ball in anger in six weeks and the French Open is just three weeks away, but the Spaniard insists he is on track to be competitive at Roland Garros.

After a record-breaking start to the 2022 season that saw him win the Australian Open to collect a 21st Grand Slam title and surpass Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic for most majors won in the men’s Open Era, Nadal’s 20-0 run came to a shuddering halt in the Indian Wells Open final.

Not only did he suffer his first defeat of the season, going down to Taylor Fritz, but he also picked up a rib injury that forced him to spend four weeks on the sidelines.

He eventually returned to training in mid-April and will make his competitive return at the Madrid Open this week while he is also scheduled to play at the Italian Open.

Some pundits have questioned whether or not he will be undercooked for the French Open, which starts on May 22, but the 13-time Roland Garros champion is confident he will be fit.

“I have three weeks,” he said. “So I trust that the daily training will help me to get ready.

“Here the demand [in high altitude in Madrid] is maximum, but what can be done is going to be done.

“The most important thing is to be healthy, but I think that going to Paris I’m on time. Three weeks are enough to get competitive.”

Real Madrid fan Nadal was an honorary guest at the Bernabeu Stadium on Saturday as he watched the Spanish giants claim a 35th La Liga title against Espanyol.

Looking ahead to the Madrid Open, third seed Nadal will open his clay-court season against either Miomir Kecmanovic or Alexander Bublik on Wednesday, but he admits the rib injury was “very disabling” and he couldn’t do much during that time.

“I have trained very little, because the rib is very disabling and also very painful,” he said.

“I had two very bad weeks and afterwards it has been very, very disabling.

“I haven’t been able to do practically anything, but it’s here, at home, in Madrid.”