Rafael Nadal makes surprise doubles decision as Olympic preparation heats up

Rafael Nadal will play doubles with Casper Ruud
Rafael Nadal and Casper Ruud will play doubles together in Bastad.

Rafael Nadal will play doubles with Casper Ruud at the Swedish Open later this summer – as the Spaniard gears up for his final Olympic Games campaign.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion announced last month that he would skip the grass-court season, including Wimbledon, to focus on action at Paris 2024.

Held on the clay at Roland Garros, where he won 14 French Open titles, the 38-year-old will take on singles and doubles action at the Olympics, being a former champion in both disciplines.

Nadal is set to play doubles with Carlos Alcaraz at the Olympics in a blockbuster partnership and, as he looks to add two his two Olympic gold medals, is now clearly trying to maximise his time on the court.

The former world No 1 was announced as a singles wildcard into the Swedish Open in Bastad earlier this season, but it was announced on Wednesday that he and Ruud would also play doubles together.

The Norwegian is also playing the singles event in Bastad – where he was a beaten finalist twelve months ago – and will also look to get some valuable clay-court minutes under his belt, with the clay specialist likely a leading medal contender in Paris.

Nadal and Ruud faced off in the 2022 French Open final – a match won by the Spaniard – but the two are known to be close.

Ruud idolised the Spaniard as a junior and trained at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Manacor, sometimes still returning to the site in Mallorca to train.

All eyes will be on how Nadal fares in both the singles and doubles in Bastad, with it currently hard to call how much of a threat he may be at the Olympics, which start later this month.

The Spaniard was beaten in straight sets by eventual finalist Alexander Zverev in the opening round of Roland Garros back in late May – but the best-of-three format may suit him more, considering lingering physical concerns.

He and Alcaraz are also an unknown quantity heading into the men’s doubles event, with it hard to call how they may fare against traditional doubles specialists.

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