Home Sports Rafael Nadal, chasing Grand Slam, will head to Wimbledon

Rafael Nadal, chasing Grand Slam, will head to Wimbledon

by YAR

PARIS — The Grand Slam is still up for grabs.

On Friday, Rafael Nadal confirmed at a press conference in Mallorca that he will travel to London on Monday with the intention of playing Wimbledon, which begins on June 27.

Nadal, who has won the first two Grand Slam tournaments of the year, had questioned his participation in Wimbledon due to a chronic problem in his left foot.

The condition, Muller-Weiss syndrome, has troubled him since his teens. He received painkiller injections from his personal doctor to numb his foot before each of his matches at this year’s French Open.

Nadal won that clay-court tournament for the 14th time on June 5, extending his career lead of three major titles with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. Nadal now holds a men’s record 22 Grand Slam singles titles, two more than Djokovic, whom Nadal beat in the quarterfinals in Paris, and Federer, who at 40 is still recovering from his latest knee surgery. But Nadal said he would not take injections or similar measures at Wimbledon and instead tried to find a long-term solution for his foot by undergoing radiofrequency ablation, which numbs the nerves using radio waves. .

Nadal, 36, underwent the procedure in Barcelona on June 7 and left the medical center on crutches, but returned to practicing on grass this week on his home island of Mallorca. He said Friday that while the procedure didn’t provide “100 percent” relief right away, he was able to push off on his left foot with less pain. He said that he still had occasional numbness in his foot, but that he had been told that it should dissipate over time.

“I’m happy,” Nadal said on Friday. “I haven’t limped for a week. Day by day, I have experienced some kind of pain different from what I had before. That is progress for me. We will have to wait and see how everything evolves.”

While confirming that he intended to play Wimbledon, Nadal also confirmed that he and his wife Maria Francisca Perelló are expecting their first child.

“I don’t know how it changes your life because I don’t have experience with that,” he said. “But this does not change my professional life.”

On Friday, Nadal trained on grass at the Mallorca Country Club with Feliciano López, the 40-year-old Spanish veteran who will play Wimbledon for the 20th consecutive time.

Nadal, who won Wimbledon in 2008 and 2010, has not played in a grass-court tournament since 2019, when he lost in the Wimbledon semifinals to old rival Federer.

“I still have a week of training in London, and if everything goes well, I will start the tournament,” said Nadal, who is scheduled to play an exhibition in London before Wimbledon. “Playing well at the French Open helps in terms of confidence and gives you a bit more peace of mind. But grass is a very difficult surface in the sense that it makes little sense. Obviously when you haven’t played on grass for years and with the fact that I’m not going to play official games before, any matchday can be complicated”.

Nadal has grown accustomed to talking about his chances, but the men’s field at Wimbledon won’t be strong this year. Wimbledon has excluded Russian and Belarusian players due to the war in Ukraine, meaning No. 1-ranked Daniil Medvedev and No. 8-ranked Andrey Rublev, both Russians, will not participate. No. 2 Alexander Zverev of Germany tore ligaments in his right ankle in his French Open semi-final against Nadal and underwent surgery. Zverev could be out of action for several months.

But Novak Djokovic, the best grass-court player in the world in recent years, will play at Wimbledon, where he has won the last three men’s singles titles. He will be the No. 1 seed and will start as a heavy favorite. Nadal will be the No. 2 seed and, like Djokovic a year ago, he is chasing a Grand Slam, which requires a player to win all four majors in the same calendar year.

The last man to do so was Rod Laver in 1969. Djokovic came up a match short, losing the 2021 US Open final to Medvedev. Nadal, for the first time in his long career, has won the first two stages of the Grand Slam after winning the Australian Open and the French Open.

But he hasn’t won Wimbledon in 12 years and he hasn’t won a grass-court title in seven years.

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