PALMA: Spanish tennis legend Rafael Nadal said on Friday he intends to play at Wimbledon but his final decision rests on how his troublesome left foot feels after training in London next week.

“My intention is to play at Wimbledon,” Nadal said at a press conference in Mallorca.

“The treatment and the last week of training tells me there is a chance. I will travel to London on Monday, play an exhibition at Hurlingham and do a week of training to see if it’s possible.” Nadal said injections meant his left foot felt “asleep” during the French Open final on June 5 — he still beat Casper Ruud to claim a record-extending 22nd Grand Slam title.

Nadal, who confirmed he was going to be a father for the first time, travelled to Barcelona last week to begin “pulsed radiofrequency stimulation”, a treatment aimed at reducing nerve pain.

Nadal’s spokesperson said the treatment would leave the nerves in his foot “temporarily numb”.

The 36-year-old then had his first session on grass on Monday at the Mallorca Country Club in Santa Ponca and has steadily increased the intensity of his training this week.

“I have noticed a difference, some slightly strange feelings to be honest,” said Nadal.

“With the treatment in the nerves, things happen in your foot, sometimes one part of the foot goes numb, sometimes another.

“It’s normal apparently and after a few weeks the nerves reorganise themselves.

“I’m happy. I’ve felt a bit of pain, but it’s different to what I had before, which for me is progress.” Nadal has won Wimbledon twice in his career, in 2008 and 2010.

He missed last year’s tournament due to pain in the same left foot while the 2020 tournament was cancelled due to the pandemic, meaning Nadal is hoping to make his first appearance at the All England Club in three years.

“I will travel to London, play two matches there before the tournament and follow my normal schedule to prepare for Wimbledon,” Nadal said.

“Who knows what can happen in a couple of days — if the situation changes or something more negative (happens), there will be a moment to explain.

“But I am excited to travel to Wimbledon and to play for the first time in three years.” He said his plan is to “play Wimbledon, rest, then Canada and then the US Open.” Nadal’s career-results have been, relatively, less consistent at Wimbledon, and he admits his lack of match-practice on grass could leave him vulnerable in this year’s early rounds.

“Playing well at Roland Garros helps the confidence level but grass is a different surface and there is little logic to these things,” the world number four said.

“I haven’t played on grass for three years and it will be difficult. The first rounds will be crucial — if you get through them, the opponents are more difficult, but you also play with more rhythm.

“The first matches you play, against people with recent experience on these courts, are a bit of a lottery.” He then turned to personal matters, saying: “If all goes well, I’m going to be a father.”

Published in Dawn, June 18th, 2022

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