Carlos Alcaraz says he feels "hurt" to see Rafael Nadal suffering with the pain of a long-term foot condition.
Nadal lost in the round of 16 at the recent Italian Open - the last Masters 1000 event before the French Open - and spoke afterwards of the crippling pain that is affecting not just his tennis career but also his life.
Alcaraz has openly stated that Spanish compatriot Nadal is one of his idols, and he was candid about how he feels witnessing the 21-time major winner's difficult situation.
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Speaking to EFE TV at a ceremony to crown Murcia's top sportsman of 2021 - an award Alcaraz shared with Moto3 world champion Pedro Acosta - the 19-year-old said: “Nobody likes to see Nadal like this, he is a reference for everyone and it hurts me to see him suffer while playing the sport he loves. It hurts us all.
"I know he had a few days to recover and I believe that in Paris he will be competitive again."
Alcaraz struggled with a foot injury of his own during the Madrid Open, where he beat Nadal in the quarter-finals. He went on to win the tournament in stunning fashion - seeing off Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals and Alexander Zverev in the final - but skipped Rome in a bid to rest and recover.
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And he shared an update on his fitness and mindset ahead of travelling to Paris, for what will be just his second appearance in the main draw of Roland-Garros.
Alcaraz said: “I'm preparing, training, getting my foot back and little by little I'm feeling better.
I go to Paris with confidence because I think I have a chance.
It remains to be seen in what condition Nadal arrives in the French capital, given the nature of his comments post-Rome.
He said: "I am not injured. I am living with an injury. My day by day is difficult.
"I imagine there will come a time when my head will say 'enough'.
"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.
"[Roland-Garros is] 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."
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