Sports · June 17, 2022

Rafael Nadal, on the hunt for the Grand Slam, will go to Wimbledon

PARIS – The Grand Slam is still in play.

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

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

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

Nadal won that tournament on clay for the fourteenth time on June 5, extending his lead in the three main title race with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. Nadal now has a men’s record of 22 Grand Slam singles titles, two more than Djokovic, whom Nadal beat in the quarter-finals in Paris, and Federer, who at the age of 40 is still recovering from his last surgery. knee surgery. But Nadal said he wouldn’t take injections or similar measures at Wimbledon and instead tried to find a long-term solution for his foot by undergoing radiofrequency ablation, which deadens the nerves through the use of radio waves.

Nadal, 36, underwent surgery in Barcelona on June 7, leaving the medical facility on crutches, but this week resumed training on grass on his home island of Mallorca. He said on Friday that although the procedure didn’t immediately give him “100%” relief, he was able to push with his left foot with less pain. He said there was still occasional numbness in his foot, but he was told he should dissipate over time.

“I’m happy,” Nadal said on Friday. “I went through a week without limping. Day after day, I experienced a different kind of pain than I had before. This is progress for me. We will have to wait and see how everything will evolve “.

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

“I don’t know how your life changes because I have no experience with it,” she said. “But that doesn’t change my professional life.”

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

Nadal, who won Wimbledon in 2008 and 2010, hasn’t played in any grass tournaments since 2019, when he lost in the Wimbledon semi-finals to his longtime rival Federer.

“I still have a week of training in London and hopefully I’ll start the tournament,” said Nadal, who is expected to play in a London exhibition before Wimbledon. “Playing well at the French Open helps in terms of confidence and gives you a little more peace of mind. But grass is a very difficult surface in the sense that there is little logic. Obviously when the years have passed I have passed without playing on grass and with the fact that I will not play the official matches in advance, any round could be complicated “.

Nadal has made a habit of belittling his chances, but this year the Wimbledon men’s field will be underpowered. Wimbledon excluded Russian and Belarusian players due to the war in Ukraine, which means that the No. 1 classified Daniil Medvedev and n. 8 Andrey Rublev, both Russian, will not take part. No. 2 German Alexander Zverev tore his right ankle ligaments in the French Open semi-final against Nadal and was operated on. Zverev could be stopped for several months.

But Novak Djokovic, the best player in the world on grass in recent years, will play Wimbledon, where he has won the last three men’s singles titles. He will be seeded No. 1 and starts as a strong favorite. Nadal wants to be seeded No. 2, and like Djokovic a year ago, he’s 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 finished in less than a game, losing the 2021 US Open final to Medvedev. Nadal, for the first time in his long career, 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 any grass title in seven years.