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Carlos Alcaraz has admitted it pains him to see his icon Rafael Nadal “suffer while playing the sport he loves”. Nadal made history earlier this year after capturing a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title.
He took some time to recover before returning to win at the Mexican Open and making the final the following month at Indian Wells. But the Spaniard has also been forced to withdraw from a number of events with injuries taking their toll.
He sustained a cracked rib at Indian Wells and suffered another setback last week during his loss to Denis Shapovalov at the Italian Open in the third round. Nadal admitted in the aftermath that he is “living” with a persistent foot injury, which ruled him out for the final few months of the 2021 season.
There’s now serious doubts on whether the 35-year-old will compete at the French Open, where he has won an incredible 13 titles. Thousands of fans gathered on Wednesday to watch Nadal train ahead of Roland Garros next week.
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Meanwhile, Alcaraz was at a ceremony to crown Murcia’s top sportsman of 2021. And while the young Spaniard is hopeful of Nadal competing at the French Open, he admits it’s painful to watch his hero at the moment.
“Nobody likes to see Nadal like this,” Alcaraz said. “He is a reference for everyone and it hurts me to see him suffer while playing the sport he loves. It hurts us all.
“I know he had a few days to recover and I believe that in Paris he will be competitive again.”
French Open tournament director Amelie Mauresmo admits to being concerned on whether Nadal will be able to make the event. She said: “I followed what Rafa experienced in Rom and he knows himself better than anyone. It’s an injury that he’s been living with for years.
“So, of course, there’s a concern for him first because we know how important coming to Roland-Garros is to him and it’s probably shaped all of that, all of his legend, in a way. So we’re following it… I would say carefully, but there’s nothing we can do. We’re just obviously all crossing our fingers to get the best players in the draw.
“Then, what would it mean if he were to eventually not play in the tournament? Obviously, he would be a miss.”
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