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    Monday, June 24, 2024

    Nadal says he is not 100% fit ahead of Madrid debut. Spaniard still unsure about playing French Open

    Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal gives a press conference at the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament in Madrid, Wednesday, April 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

    Madrid — Rafael Nadal will play in the Madrid Open despite not being fully fit and didn't seem too optimistic about his chances of being ready for the French Open next month.

    The 37-year-old Nadal said Wednesday he would not play in Paris if he arrives there feeling the same way that he is feeling ahead of his opening match in Madrid this week.

    “The sensations haven't been perfect this week. If it wasn't Madrid, maybe I wouldn't play. But there are a lot of emotions involved," Nadal said. “I don't know what's going to happen in the following three weeks. I'll keep fighting and doing the things that I think I need to do to play in Paris. And if it's possible, then it's possible. If not, then not. I'm not going to play in Paris the way I'm feeling today. It it was Paris, I wouldn't be playing.”

    Nadal has said this is likely his farewell year on tour, and is hoping to be competitive one last time at Roland Garros, where he is a 14-time champion.

    The 22-time Grand Slam champion has won a record five times in Madrid, with his last title in the Spanish capital coming in 2017. He is scheduled to debut on Thursday against 16-year-old American Darwin Blanch.

    “Hopefully I can play without many limitations,” Nadal said. “Then we’ll see what happens. If I play without limitations, even if I lose, then it will be positive.”

    Nadal, who had hip surgery last summer, lost to Alex de Minaur in the second round in Barcelona in what was his first tournament in more than three months.

    “The goal is be on court. Enjoy as long as possible,” he said. “I mean, that’s the thing. Try to finish the tournament alive in terms of body issues, and enjoy the fact that I will be able to compete one more time in the professional tour and here at home in Madrid, a place that give me everything, no, in terms of support.”

    He said he is giving himself “a chance” and hopes to “find better feelings” in his body going forward.

    “I don’t lose hope. I just accept the situation that I have today,” Nadal said. “I mean, I am not playing bad. It’s about more body limitations. ... That’s not allowed me to compete the way that I would like to compete.”

    Women’s draw

    Former world No. 1 Naomi Osaka earned her first win on clay in two years by defeating lucky loser Greet Minnen 6-4, 6-1 in the first round.

    Osaka had eight aces and faced one break point for her first clay win since beating Anastasia Potapova in the first round in Madrid in 2022.

    “There’s a basis to my game and I want to stick to that, but also respect the court,” said Osaka, who returned from maternity leave in January. “It’s a work in progress for me, but I’m watching a lot more matches on clay, I’m trying to do my homework as best as I can.”

    Qualifier Jessica Bouzas Maneiro rallied to defeat fellow Spaniard Paula Badosa 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 to earn her first WTA 1000 main-draw victory and improve her 2024 record to 30-7.

    “The tennis level is there, but I need to recover emotionally,” said Badosa, a former No. 2 in the world. “Every week is a disappointment. I've been at the top and it's tough to see myself at the bottom right now.”

    American Sloane Stephens beat Martina Trevisan 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, while compatriot Bernarda Pera lost 7-5, 6-2 to Sara Sorribes Tormo.

    Maria Lourdes Carle posted her first WTA 1000 victory by defeating 2021 U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu 6-2, 6-2, while Italian qualifier Sara Errani beat former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki 3-6, 7-5, 7-5.

    Men’s draw

    Luciano Darderi defeated two-time Madrid quarterfinalist Gael Monfils 6-4, 6-2 to set up a meeting with 12th-seeded Taylor Fritz.

    Alexander Shevchenko beat Arthur Rinderknech 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 and will be the second-round opponent of two-time defending champion Carlos Alcaraz.

    Jaume Munar, Mariano Navone and Taro Daniel were also winners in Madrid on Wednesday.

    Naomi Osaka, of Japan, hits a return to Greet Minnen, of Belgium, during the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament in Madrid, Wednesday, April 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

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