Rafael Nadal's Paris Passion: Roland Garros and Olympic Quest

Rafael Nadal will focus on Roland Garros and the Olympic Games

by Jovica Ilic
Rafael Nadal's Paris Passion: Roland Garros and Olympic Quest
© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Rafael Nadal will not compete in Dohga next week. He experienced a minor discomfort during the practice session and will stay away from the court until Indian Wells. Nadal has played only seven matches since the start of 2023, struggling with a severe hip injury and hoping to overcome it and compete injury-free for the rest of the year. The veteran will pick his schedule wisely, with two Parisian events at the top of his priorities.

Rafa would love to perform at a high level at his beloved Roland Garros before returning to Paris a month and a half later to chase Olympic glory. Nadal is a 14-time Roland Garros champion, suffering only three defeats in Paris and dominating at a single Major like no one before him.

Rafa claimed his 14th trophy two years ago in style, dethroning Novak Djokovic in the quarter-final and surviving an epic clash against Alexander Zverev after the German's severe ankle injury. Nadal met Casper Ruud in the final and beat him in straight sets, extending his incredible legacy 17 years after debuting in Paris.

The veteran would love to give himself another chance to battle for the Olympic medal, claiming gold in Beijing 2008 over Novak Djokovic and Fernando Gonzalez. Nadal skipped London 2012 and barely missed a medal in Rio four years later.

However, Nadal claimed the doubles gold with his good friend and current coach Marc Lopez.

Rafael Nadal, Roland Garros 2022© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Rafa did not play in Tokyo three years ago, withdrawing from Wimbledon and the Olympic Games to preserve his body following a demanding campaign on clay.

Everything worked perfectly for Rafa in the early stages of 2022, conquering the Australian Open and Roland Garros and standing on 22 Major trophies. The Spaniard's run ended in the Wimbledon semi-final, injuring his abdominal muscle and withdrawing ahead of the Nick Kyrgios clash.

The veteran played only a couple of matches after the US Open, struggling and missing a chance to become world no. 1 at 36. Rafa wished for a better run at the beginning of 2023, but things only worsened and ruined his progress!

Rafael Nadal keeps his focus on Roland Garros and the Olympic Games.

Kicking off the 2023 season with no form or confidence, Nadal played four matches in Australia and wrapped up the season much earlier than expected. Rafa suffered two United Cup losses before heading to Melbourne as the defending Australian Open champion.

Nadal beat Jack Draper in the first round and faced Mackenzie McDonald in the second. The veteran injured his left hip in the closing stages of the second set, enduring until the end but revealing a severe injury that sent him away from the court.

Rafa underwent surgery in June and missed the rest of the season, experiencing the most extending break of his career at 37! Not giving up, Nadal spent a quality summer with his family and friends and returned to the practice court in the second part of the year.

Rafael Nadal, Roland Garros 2022© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Feeling positive signs on the court and gym, Nadal arranged his long-awaited comeback for the first week of 2024, entering the ATP 250 event in Brisbane.

Nadal embraced his first match in 349 days against his old rival Dominic Thiem, performing well and sealing the deal in straight sets after a strong run from the opening set's closing stages. Rafa ousted Jason Kubler in the second round after another rock-solid performance on serve and return, preserving energy and hoping for more against Jordan Thompson in the quarter-final.

As it turned out, Rafa could have sealed the deal in straight sets and avoided a marathon, blowing three match points in the tie break of the second set. Thompson denied them and prevailed 5-7, 7-6, 6-3 in three hours and 25 minutes after an epic battle.

Nadal felt the pain around his troubled hip in the final set, requiring a medical timeout and refusing to surrender. However, Thompson broke him once and sealed the deal. Rafa and his team traveled to Melbourne, undergoing an MRI and revealing a micro tear in his muscle.

Thus, the veteran decided to skip the Australian Open, not risking even more serious injury after staying away from the court for so long.

Rafael Nadal, Roland Garros 2022© Ryan Pierse / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Nadal returned to Mallorca and took a couple of weeks off the court before resuming training.

As it turned out, Rafa experienced a minor discomfort in the troubled area, staying on the practice court but deciding to skip Doha and preserve his body for Indian Wells and the upcoming clay swing. Nadal is yet to determine if this is his final season on the Tour, waiting for the clay swing and how his body would react.

"I do not know which events I have left to play, but there will not be many. Roland Garros remains one of my goals, and I would also love to compete at the Olympic Games. I believe I can achieve that," Rafael Nadal said.

Rafael Nadal Roland Garros Olympic Games