Nadal to reveal French Open decision, amid injury concerns

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Rafael Nadal won his 14th French Open title last year
Rafael Nadal won his 14th French Open title last year

Rafael Nadal will announce if he will compete in the French Open on Thursday, amid a long-term injury struggle and some Spanish reports that he will withdraw.

The 22-time Grand Slam winner has battled to recover from a hip injury he sustained in January at the Australian Open, not playing since then.

"If he plays or not and the reasons either way will only be communicated tomorrow," said a spokesman for Nadal on Wednesday.

Nadal will speak at 4pm local time (1400 GMT) on Thursday at his Rafa Nadal academy in Mallorca.

The Spaniard, 36, pulled out of the Barcelona and Madrid Open tournaments among others in the run-up to Roland Garros, and earlier in May confirmed he would not participate in the Italian Open.

The French Open, which he has won on a record 14 occasions, starts in Paris on May 28.

Nadal's struggles with fitness over the past couple of years have created wider doubts concerning his career. He has competed in just four matches in 2023, winning only once.

The superstar hoped to battle with Novak Djkovic in Paris for a record extending 23rd Grand Slam, after the Serb pulled level with him by winning the Australian Open.

"It depends if Nadal plays or not," joked Djokovic this week when asked if the French Open would be the most open for two decades.

Nadal turned down a wildcard offer for a Challenger tournament in Bordeaux next week as he tried to win his race  to make Roland Garros.

He has competed at the tournament in France every year since 2005, which was the first time he won it.

The current world number 14, who turns 37 in June, has only lost three times at the French Open since his debut at the tournament.

In 2016, he was forced to withdraw from the tournament before the third round with a wrist injury.

Nadal has never played at the French Open without a warm-up event on clay.

The Spaniard's last match was a straight-sets defeat by American player Mackenzie McDonald in the second round of the Australian open.

The veteran pulled out of hard-court tournaments in the US in March, aiming to make the start of the clay court season, but his injury recovery did not progress as planned.

Earlier in May, Nadal said his injury situation had improved with a new treatment, but not sufficiently to be able to play in Rome this week.

Physical problems have dogged Nadal through his glittering career and there are fears they may soon bring it to an end.