Rafa Nadal fell in the round of 16 of the Masters 1000 in Rome against Denis Shapovalov (1-6, 7-5, 6-2) in a match that ended up limping, again unable to show his best version due to the chronic injury he suffers on the left foot. His physical problems threaten to hamper his participation in Roland Garros, which begins in ten days, and more importantly: his desire to play tennis.
"I play because it makes me happy, but the pain takes away that happiness. I live taking a lot of painkillers just to be able to train every day and you can't go on like this for long. I don't pretend to be in perfect condition, I just hope I can get out on the pitch." explained the Balearic in the press conference after the game against the Canadian.
Nadal started the first set with good feelings, overwhelming against an outclassed Shapovalov, but from then on everything went wrong. "Towards the middle of the second set I felt a lot of pain in my foot. I am not injured, I am a player who lives with an injury," said the 10-time champion in Rome, who was barely able to compete in the third set.
"The negative and hardest thing for me today is that honestly I began to feel playing much better. I started the match playing much better," lamented a Nadal who described as "frustrating" a situation that prevents him "many days" from even training. "Since I've been back, it's been difficult with my foot," he added.
Now, he will have little more than a week to alleviate that pain in order to play Roland Garros with the maximum possible guarantees, without a doubt the great objective of the season. "The first thing I have to do is not have pain to train. (...) It is true that during Roland Garros I will have my doctor there with me. That sometimes helps because you can do things," he explained.
Nadal, affected in his left foot by Muller-Weiss disease, had to stop in August 2021 due to his chronic problem, after losing in the Washington tournament. He reappeared at the beginning of the year exhibiting the best version of himself with the conquest of three titles in a row, first the Melbourne tournament, then the Australian Open, with which he added his 21st Grand Slam, and finally the Acapulco tournament.
His winning streak, undefeated in that spectacular start to 2022, was cut short in the Indian Wells final, where he lost to Taylor Fritz suffering from a crack in his ribs suffered in the last games of the semifinal match against Carlos Alcaraz. Nadal missed the Montecarlo tournaments and the Conde de Godó Trophy due to injury and reappeared at the Mutua Madrid Open, where he fell in the quarterfinals against Alcaraz. In Rome, his left foot was again his worst rival.