Rafael Nadal only made it as far as the last 16 at the Italian Open in Rome. He lost to Denis Shapovalov 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 after appearing to struggle with pain in his foot. Despite dominating the first set, Nadal started to limp in the later stages of the match, making it evident that he was in pain. The latest setback has now cast a doubt over his participation in the upcoming French Open.

Roland Garros is buzzing with excitement at the possible return of crown favourite Nadal, but it appears as though a long-standing foot injury has returned just days before the French Open is set to start on May 22. "It started to hurt me again in the middle of the second set, and it became unbearable," he said, as quoted by BBC Sport.

Last year, Nadal missed most of the professional tour due to the Mueller-Weiss Syndrome, a degenerative foot condition that he had been dealing with for many years. However, as the 35-year-old gets older, the condition appears to be affecting him a lot more.

He made a strong comeback in December after many thought that last year's injury troubles were career-ending. He blew expectations by winning the Summer Set before taking the Australian Open title.

Nadal continued to impress in early 2022 before suffering a rib injury that took him out again for several weeks. He has since returned for the clay season, but this new setback has fans worried.

"It's a pain that comes and goes. Sometimes stronger, sometimes less. Today was crazy. Maybe in two days, it will be better. I don't know how it will be in two days, in a week. I really don't know," he said after the match.

The Spaniard has won the Italian Open a record ten times to date, and his presence was well received by the Roman crowd.

However, the crowd at Roland Garros loves him even more and ticket holders are waiting with bated breath to find out if they will see the King of Clay in action. Nadal himself feels optimistic that he can still launch a bid for his 14th French Open crown.

"I have to accept the situation and fight. I can't say anything more. I don't know if I should rest or train, but I still have a goal in a week and a few days. I will dream of this goal," he said.

Rafael Nadal
Spain's Rafael Nadal has won the Italian Open a record 10 times AFP / Andreas SOLARO