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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Wednesday May 8, 2024

No promises, no guarantees. Rafael Nadal isn’t about to declare himself in tip-top King of Clay shape just because he has managed to play three events in succession this spring.

Tennis Express

The 22-time major champion has never been one to exxagerage his chances, after all. But the Spaniard does admit that he’s pleased with the progress he has been able to make in the last month, and that he is enjoying the heck out of being on the tour at the moment.

This week he is back at the Foro Italico in Rome, where he is a ten-time champion.

Nadal, who is making his 19th appearance in Rome and owns a 69-8 record in the Italian capital, says he’s getting better each day.

“In a general perspective, the line is going up, without a doubt,” Nadal told reporters. “I am happy to be where I am today, because one month ago for me it was almost impossible to think that I would be able to play in Barcelona, then in Madrid, and now being here in Rome.”

“My feelings are better, always. In terms of tennis, too. Why not?”

37-year-old Nadal says he is excited about what’s to come, and believes that if his body behaves, he can be in even better form in a few weeks.

“I am here to try my best,” he said. “Tomorrow (against Zizou Bergs in the first round) is a start. All the matches are tough for me today and difficult and more unpredictable than what the matches used to be for me, especially on clay.

“I accept that role. I accept that challenge. I am excited about the way that I can be able to play if I keep working the proper way and my body allow me.”

No Drama: Sinner and Alcaraz Will Be Back

Nadal had a lengthy discussion with a reporter about injuries, saying that players today must accept that if they are going to push their bodies to the limit, injuries are bound to happen.

It was a blow to the tournament to have top-ranked Italian Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz pull out due to injury, but the show must go on.

“They are young,” he said. “They are going to have plenty of [chances] to play in Rome and have a lot of success here. No drama. Tournament will survive even without Carlos and Jannik, super important players for any event, any tournament today.”

Still, Nadal admits, he does feel a bit of sadness that Sinner can’t compete in Italy, after all he has done to elevate the sport in the country this year. At this year’s Australian Open, Sinner became the first man to win a major since 1976 and has recently achieved the highest ever ranking for an Italian, at No.2.

“Especially for Italy, to not have Jannik playing here after all that he represents today in this country, I think it's terrible news. Even for me as a spectator, as a colleague, I feel so sad for him because he deserves to play here.