Rafael Nadal has played down concerns over his injured foot ahead of his quest for a record-extending 14th French Open title.
There were doubts over whether the 35-year-old would even play in Paris after he limped and grimaced towards the end of his Italian Open defeat to Denis Shapovalov earlier this month.
Nadal also lost to Carlos Alcaraz in Madrid, when he was returning from a rib injury, and has not won a clay title this season.
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He says he “feels better” after his foot injury flared up in Rome but is continuing to “live” with the problem “every day”.
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“What happened in Rome is something that happened very often in my practices,” said Nadal ahead of his opening match against Australian Jordan Thompson.
“But yeah I was suffering after that for a couple of days, but I feel better. That's why I'm here. But what happened there I think everybody knows, and I talked after the match very open about what's going on. But at the same time I said is something that can be better in the near future. And I hope that's the case here.
“The pain is always there. It's not about going disappear now. It's about if the pain is high and strong enough to allow me to play with real chances or not.
“I answered of course the questions, and I will answer the questions, but I will not be talking all the time about my foot even if I understand that it's something that's normal, because after what happened in Rome. But in my case, is something that I live every day with that, so is nothing new for me and is not a big surprise.
“So I am here just to play tennis and to try to make the best result possible here in Roland-Garros. And if I don't believe that this thing can happen, probably I will not be here.
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“So I am just working as much as I can, and practicing as good as possible. My real goal is just put me in a position that I am healthy and playing enough good tennis to give myself good chances.”
Fifth seed Nadal won a record 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open earlier this year but faces stiff competition in Paris from Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz, Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Nadal, Djokovic, Zverev and Alcaraz have all been placed on the same half of the draw.
Asked about the difficulty of the draw, Nadal said: “Mentally for me it doesn't matter. In terms of tennis, of course the top of the draw you see the names, of course is a very tough one. But we are in a Grand Slam, and you never know what can happen.
“You know, [there] remain a lot of things to happen, to probably arrive to the matches that you are thinking.
“The only thing that I can say is of course I know everything. For me [that has] never been a problem. I am probably humble enough in that case to just be focused on my first match.
“Doesn't matter if I know where I am exactly and what possible opponents I can have. But I mean, let's see. Only thing that I would like is be the player that, one of the players that you think can face these other great players.”
While Nadal’s foot might be a worry over the next two weeks, third seed Alexander Zverev was impressed with what he saw from the 13-time champion in practice.
“I just watched him practise. And all of a sudden his forehand is just 20 miles an hour faster. He moves lighter on his feet. There is something about this court that makes him play 30% better.”
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