Rafael Nadal’s Olympics chances assessed as tennis

Nadal’s ongoing injury woes came to a head on Thursday when he announced his withdrawal from the upcoming French Open, where he is a 14-time champion. During a press conference at his academy in Mallorca, he also said he would stop playing tennis for several months with the view of playing pain-free in 2024 – what he believes will be his farewell season.

“My idea is to try and say goodbye to all the important tournaments for me in my career,” Nadal said, before admitting that he hoped to compete at the Olympics. And Henman – a Eurosport pundit for the upcoming French Open – has given his verdict on the Spaniard’s hopes of making it to Paris 2024.

“I mean that would be pretty special,” he said, speaking exclusively to Express Sport. But the retired British pro admitted that Nadal would need to remain disciplined with his health to ensure that he could perform at the Olympics in 14 months’ time.

He continued: “I’m sure Rafa has got his own hopes and expectations and goals but none of those are attainable if you’re not healthy and he’s always been so good with that and disciplined that he plays when he’s fit and he listens to his body.

“He’s got a great team around him and as I said, your health is your wealth and he’s struggled and he’s got to be 100 per cent fit.” Henman’s words come as Nadal himself was asked whether the Olympics could end up being the last tournament of his career while it was staged at the site of the French Open.

“I cannot say it now because it is difficult to predict what will happen, how my body will be,” the 22-time Grand Slam champion responded. “I don’t want to say one thing and do the other. It is better to leave the options open and see what is possible.”

But Nadal made it clear that the Olympics was one of the tournaments he was eyeing for his lap of honour, adding: “I want to compete in the competitions that are important to me and the Olympic Games is one of the competitions that I would like to be in. I hope to be there. Whether it will be my last tournament or not, I can’t say right now.”

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