Rafael Nadal to reveal if he will defend French Open title on Thursday

Rafael Nadal to reveal if he will defend his French Open title at press conference in Mallorca on Thursday following reports the 36-year-old is set to pull out due to injury

  • Nadal’s domination of the French Open could be at an end due to injury
  • The 36-year-old has not played since suffering a hip injury in January 
  • He will a definitive announcement at a press conference on Thursday

Rafael Nadal’s domination of the French Open could be at an end with further doubts emerging over his participation in Paris later this month.

The Spaniard has called a press conference for Thursday afternoon to make a definitive announcement about whether or not he will be at Roland Garros.

His representatives were warning against the assumption that the 14-time champion is sure to announce his withdrawal.

Yet the decision to summon the media to his academy in Mallorca is a highly unusual one and it would be a surprise if he will merely confirm a comeback.

Video footage of him practising in recent days has veered between the encouraging and the negative. What is indisputable is that he has not played since the Australian Open in January, and that his expected return from issues with a hip muscle is already well behind what was expected.

Rafael Nadal’s domination of the French Open could be at an end due to injury

At best he would be attempting to win without any matches behind him, and that might be beyond even the greatest clay courter in history.

It is far from impossible that we have seen the last of Nadal, and some Spanish media outlets are asserting that he will not be in Paris, at the minimum.

The whole picture for the French Open was looking unpredictable already after Holger Rune delivered another crunching upset at the Italian Open.

The 20-year-old world No 7 scored his second straight win over Novak Djokovic to end one of the more remarkable sequences that have marked the dominance of the Big Three.

His rain-interrupted 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 victory means that it will be the first time in an incredible 19 years that neither Djokovic nor Nadal will feature in the Rome final.

As the biggest signpost to Paris it tells of a forthcoming clay court Grand Slam that, highly unusually for the men, should have at least six genuine contenders for the title, especially with the shock defeat earlier this week of Carlos Alcaraz.

Among them is the supremely confident Rune, who added to his previous win over Djokovic at last year’s indoor Paris Masters.

In relatively slow and heavy conditions both players argued with umpire Mohamed Lahyani over line calls with the younger player giving no quarter. 

The 14-time champion at Roland Garros has not played since suffering a hip injury in January

Forced off for an hour at 4-5 in the second set, he regrouped to race to a 4-0 lead in the decider and was more solid than Djokovic at what has been one of his favourite venues.

Afterwards Djokovic declared that he was still confident about his chances at the French Open, but he will go there with little momentum, having amassed a modest 5-3 record on the European clay, and with only one tournament before that since the Australian Open. He took a painkiller during the match and has been having treatment on a niggling injury in his elbow.

Rune increasingly looks like he is not far behind Alcaraz among the coming generation, and mixed aggressive intent with tactical acumen. 

‘This is a huge win for me. He makes it so hard to serve out a match and puts the pressure on so I am very proud of myself for that.’

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