Rafael Nadal appeared badly hampered by a foot injury as he was beaten in three sets by Denis Shapovalov in the last 16 of the Italian Open and he says it could force him to retire from tennis.
Nadal cruised through the first set, but was limping and grimacing by the end of the match as Shapovalov fought back to win 1-6 7-5 6-2.
It is Nadal’s earliest exit in Rome since 2008 and raises questions about his fitness ahead of the French Open, which starts on May 22.
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Speaking afterwards, 10-time Italian Open champion Nadal said: "I am not injured. I am living with an injury. My day by day is difficult.
"I am trying hard but of course it's difficult to accept the situation at times. A lot of days I can't practise the proper way.
"Today it started half way through the second set and it was unplayable for me. I don't want to take away credit from Denis that he deserves...Today is for him."
The 21-time Grand Slam winner believes there will come a point when the injury will force him to retire from the sport.
"I imagine there will come a time when my head will say 'enough'," he said.
"Pain takes away your happiness, not only in tennis but in life. And my problem is that many days I live with too much pain."
Nadal said at the Madrid Open, where he made his return from a rib injury, that he has a "chronic foot injury which has no treatment."
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Asked about his chances of being fully healthy for the French Open, Nadal, who missed half of last season with a foot injury, said: "Still the goal, in one week and a couple of days. I'll still keep dreaming.
"Maybe in two days, things are better, the things that I have on my foot. It's true that during Roland Garros I'm going to have my doctor with me - that sometimes helps."
The loss to Shapovalov means Nadal will drop to No. 5 in the world rankings and could be drawn to face the top seed in the quarter-finals of the French Open.
Shapovalov had pushed Nadal to five sets in a fiery match at the Australian Open this year, during which the Canadian claimed his opponent received preferential treatment from umpires.
But there were few fireworks in the first set in Rome as Nadal looked in control, breaking twice and wrapping it up in 43 minutes.
The momentum started to swing at the start of the second set after Nadal failed to convert three break points in the opening game.
Shapovalov then broke and Nadal’s level dropped as he slipped 4-1 behind.
Despite being bothered by his foot, Nadal rallied to get back to 5-5, only to lose the next two games.
Nadal broke to start the third set, but started limping more between points and lost 14 points in a row as Shapovalov streaked clear to win.
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