With just 10 days to go before Roland-Garros starts, Rafael Nadal is battling an injury again.
Nadal was hampered by a foot problem late in the third round after losing 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 to Denis Shapovalov at the Italian Open on Thursday.
At one point, 35-year-old Nadal leaned over his towel box and shivered in obvious pain. He also stopped at the point.
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Nadal missed a large part of last year with a left leg injury.
Nadal said: “It simply came to our notice then. “I am a player surviving an injury. This is nothing new. Unfortunately, it is something like that. It is difficult day by day.
It was a disturbing sight for Nadal – especially with Roland-Garros since 22 May.
“I don’t know what could happen in the next two days,” said Nadal, who has won the Roland-Garos record a record 13 times. “I don’t really know what could happen in a week.”
Nadal returned to the tour last week due to a stress fracture in his ribs after an explosive start to the year, including his record 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, which kept him out for six weeks.
“Sometimes it’s hard for me to accept the situation,” Nadal said. “It can be frustrating that many days I can’t practice properly.”
Nadal also lost to 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz in the quarterfinals of the Madrid Open last week.
Nadal missed the backhand long after a double-fault twice and handed Shapovalov his serve break and the second set. Shapovalov then took full control when he won 14 points late in the third.
“Of course it’s hard to see him in pain in the end,” said Shapovalov, who faced Caspar Rudd in the quarter-finals. “I would never want to see that, especially with a great legend like Rafa … he brings a lot to our game. Hopefully he’s fit and ready for the French.”
Nadal, who has won the Italian Open a record 10 times, said his leg started to ache in the middle of the second set, adding: “Then (it) was not worth playing for me.”
Earlier, top-seeded Novak Djokovic suffered a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Stan Warinka, who was playing his second tournament after two surgeries on his left leg.
Djokovic, the five-time champion in Rome, will next play Felix Agar-Aliasim, who ended the run of American qualifier Marcos Giron with a 6-3, 6-2 victory. This will be the first meeting between Djokovic and Agar-Aliasim.
In the women’s tournament, top Iga Suitek was tested before reaching the quarter-finals with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka and extending her winning streak to 25 matches.
Azarenka took a 3-0 lead before Svatek won five games in a row in the first set lasting 1 hour, 20 minutes.
“My first serve didn’t work out well,” said Suatech, “but I’m glad I can win the first set ugly, then improve on the second. It gives me confidence that even if my game isn’t 100% good, I can still win the match.”
Svatech is trying to win its fifth consecutive tournament and is defending its title in Rome.
The last player to win more matches in a row was Serena Williams, who had 27 consecutive streaks in 2014 and 2015.
“(Streak) is not really important to me because every match is different,” said Swatech. “I’ve fought a lot of matches this season, even though I’ve won them. Anything can happen. Every match is a different story.”
When the second Grand Slam of the year begins in 10 days, Swiatek’s race makes him a favorite to win his second French Open. She was ranked 54th when Swiatek won the Roland Garros in 2020 – making her the lowest-ranked woman to win the Paris Major in the Open era.
A sign of how challenging it was for Suetek to serve on the red clay court at Forro Italico, he played twice as many points as Azarenka – 98 to 47.
When Azarenka faced a break point late in the first set, a spectator was disturbed when he entered the front row of the mostly empty VIP section behind him. When he double-handedly handed over control of the set to Sweettech, he frustratedly hit his racquet and complained to the chair umpire about the interruption in the middle of the game.
Swiatek will next face 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andrescu, who beat Croatian qualifier Petra Martic 6-4, 6-4.
The highlight of the day was Janic Cinar, a 20-year-old Italian who reached the quarter-finals for the first time in his home tournament, defeating Philip Krajinovic 6-2, 7-6 (6).
Cena will next face Stefanos Sitsipas, who defeated Karen Khachanov 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 in the 29th game of the year.
Also, 2017 Rome champion Alexander Zaverev, who is running in the final in Madrid, lost to Alex de Minaur 6-3, 7-6 (5).
Zverev, who is still looking for his first title of the year, has returned to the circuit with his father and coach Alexander after a long absence because the family has kept him private.
When Zaverev won the ATP final in November, his older brother and associate pro, Misha, was coaching him.
“I have been missing a coach for six months,” Zverev said. “That’s what was missing.”
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