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Rafa Nadal withdraws from Italian Open but will he be able to play at Roland Garros?

Winner of multiple grand slams, the former No. 1 continues to be frustrated by injury and will now be forced to watch the upcoming Italian Open from the stands.

Winner of multiple grand slams,  the former No. 1 continues to be frustrated by injury and will now be forced to watch the upcoming Italian Open from the stands.
Clive BrunskillGetty Images

With his absence in Rome’s tournament now confirmed, the focus will understandably shift to Roland Garros and whether the record French Open winner can recover in time to play in the tournament that he’s become synonymous with.

Rafa Nadal pulls out of Rome Masters tournament

Though some may have suspected it, reports now confirm that former world No. 1 Rafael Nadal has pulled out of next week’s Rome Masters tournament due to a hip injury. This is of course the very same injury that forced Nadal to withdraw from the 2023 Australian Open back in January.

Nadal’s social media post on Friday, in which he announced his decision comes less than a week before the tournament is set to begin. A 10-time Rome Masters champion, Nadal explained that the injury has in fact taken twice as long to heal as expected. Indeed, this is the 16th week of his recovery process after it was initially projected to be a timeline of 6-8 weeks. As a result, tournament preparation has been impossible and thus, withdrawal was the only option. If there is a silver lining, it’s that Nadal noted there has been some degree of improvement in recent days, a notion that is in direct contrast to the update he gave just two weeks ago when he withdrew from the Barcelona Open just last month after explaining that despite following all recommendations, his hip was not improving.

Will Nadal play at Roland Garros?

As the undisputed King of Clay, it’s only natural that tennis fans are already questioning whether Nadal will be able to play in the French Open. If you didn’t know, the Spaniard has won an astonishing 14 titles at Roland Garros. The love between him and the crowds who have witnessed his rise to legendary status on clay is plain for all to see, which is precisely why many are aching to know whether they will get another opportunity to witness him once again. To be clear, Nadal has given no official word on his status for the French Open, but it goes without saying that this most recent development casts some degree of doubt on the future.

Yet, perhaps there is an even greater concern for the star and that’s the amount of tennis that he’s played in recent months. Indeed, assuming he does manage to recover in time for Roland Garros, it will have been four months since he last played a match. In truth, Nadal has only won five matches across the last 10 months, which in turn has seen his ranking drop. Consider for a moment that he ended 2022 ranked No. 2 in the world only to see himself slip out of the top 10 on April 25th, for the first time in 18 years. It was in fact the longest running top 10 streak in ATP history. With his 37th birthday fast approaching, Nadal knows all too well that he’s in the twilight of his career. The question is whether he can add one more title before the sun finally sets on it.