Tennis-Nadal says 2024 may not be his last French Open, ahead of Zverev showdown

tennis-nadal says 2024 may not be his last french open, ahead of zverev showdown

FILE PHOTO: Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - May 25, 2024 Spain's Rafael Nadal during the press conference REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo

By Shrivathsa Sridhar

PARIS (Reuters) - Fourteen-time French Open champion Rafa Nadal said there was still a chance this year's tournament in Paris may not be his last, in comments ahead of his tough opener against fourth seed Alexander Zverev.

The Spaniard, who turns 38 next month, skipped last year's tournament due to a hip injury that needed surgery and has said he expects to retire at the end of 2024.

But he wasn't ready to repeat those words on Saturday.

"If I have to tell you it's 100% my last Roland Garros, sorry but I will not, because I cannot predict what's going on. I hope you understand," Nadal told a packed press conference.

"I don't want to close 100% the door, because it's a very simple thing. First, I'm enjoying playing tennis," he said, adding that he was "more or less healthy .. and playing without limitation".

"Maybe in one month and a half I'll say 'OK, it's enough, I can't keep going'. But today I cannot guarantee that it's going to be the last one."

Nadal skipped the Australian Open in January with a muscle problem, and the 22-times Grand Slam champion had raised doubts about his fitness for the year's second major with lingering issues in Barcelona, Madrid and Rome.

"I'm feeling better. That's the truth. Not because I'm here," Nadal added, appearing more cheerful than he has in recent months.

"Probably because we did things to try to feel better and we have been working without a stop to keep going with the process, to try to arrive here in a proper way."

Nadal turned his attention to Monday's clash with Zverev, a rematch of the 2022 semi-final when the German retired after an ankle injury.

"It's a super-tough first round. Maybe I go there and I repeat the disaster of Rome. It's a possibility. I don't want to hide that," Nadal said, referring to a second-round defeat by Hubert Hurkacz in the Italian capital this month.

"But in my mind is something different, play much better and give myself a chance to be competitive... I didn't play this level of opponents, being competitive since a super-long time.

"So all these questions I understand that you're making to me I'm asking to myself too. But the answer is going to be on Monday, no? That's it.

"The rest of the things are just talking and talking, and in the end don't matter. It's about my feelings and my feelings are better. I want to enjoy that match."

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Paris; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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