Tennis: Rafael Nadal’s French Open build-up suffers dent, knocked out in second round by Hubert Hurkacz

Rafael Nadal’s build-up to his final French Open season suffered a crushing blow after he was knocked out in straight sets by Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz on Saturday (May 11). Nadal having made his way into the second round was outclassed 1-6, 3-6 and was able to win only four games in the defeat. The loss also means the Spaniard’s next match will be at the French Open where he is likely to make his final appearance having struggled with injuries over the last year.

Nadal out of Italian Open

“The decision, as you can imagine, is not clear in my mind today. But if I have to say what’s  my feeling and if my mind is closer one way or the other way, I going to say be in Roland Garros and try my best,” Nadal told reporters. 

“Physically I have some issues, but not probably yet enough to say not playing in the most important event of my tennis career. Let’s see what’s going on, how I feel myself mentally tomorrow, after tomorrow, and in one week.”

Nadal with 14 French Open titles has been struggling with injuries and is almost out of gas to add one more to that impressive tally. He has not featured in a Grand Slam since 2023 and will make his return to the big tournament at the month’s end. 

After his defeat, he denied taking a farewell lap and said there is “98 percent, not 100 percent” of a return to the Italian tennis court as a player. 

Hurkacz will face Tomas Etcheverry in the third round after likely ending Nadal’s love affair with Rome as the 22-time Grand Slam winner looks set to call time on his career at the end of the season.

The French Open 2024 will start on 20 May and will conclude on June 9 with top names like Noval Djokovic and Nadal in action. While the headlines are about Nadal, Djokovic could script history with his 25th Grand Slam singles title, surpassing Margaret Court’s record of 24 titles. 

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