‘Rafa is Rafa, even if he arrives without many matches, he will surely show a spectacular level’

Shahida Jacobs
Delight for Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal celebrates

Carlos Alcaraz believes Rafael Nadal will be “difficult to beat” at Roland Garros even if he is undercooked due to his ongoing injury woes.

Nadal is yet to compete on clay this year as he has struggled with a hip injury with his last competitive match coming back in January when he lost in the second round of the Australian Open.

Having pulled out of the Monte Carlo Masters, Barcelona Open and this week’s Madrid Open, Nadal only has the Italian Open – which starts on May 8 – remaining to get some matches under his belt before the French Open gets underway at the end of May.

The 22-time Grand Slam winner has started posting regular updates on social media about his practice matches on clay, but it remains to be seen if he will play at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Rome as well as the clay-court Grand Slam in Paris.

Last year he played only five matches on clay before going on to win a record-extending 14th title at Roland Garros and many – including Alcaraz – believe he is capable of pulling something similar off this time year.

“He is one of the best in history and we want to see him in all the tournaments. I say this as a player and as a tennis lover, I like to see him compete and learn from him,” the world No 2 said.

“It has been a pity all these months where we have not been able to see him in tournaments. Hopefully he will be in Rome and then at Roland Garros, where he will be a rival to beat. Although he has not played since Australia, a man who has won a tournament 14 times will always be difficult to beat in that tournament, even if he comes without match rhythm.

“It will also be difficult for him, tennis requires that competitive rhythm, but Rafa is Rafa, even if he arrives without many matches, he will surely show a spectacular level.”

Nadal has slipped to No 14 in the ATP Rankings due to his inactivity so far this season and he could slump out of the world top 100 if he fails to play at this year’s French Open.

The teenis great was seeded fifth during last year’s title run, but given that he will be seeded 14th at best, he is likely to get a difficult draw for this year’s tournament.

READ MORE: Rafael Nadal injury update adds mystery to his French Open hopes