Rafael Nadal after leaving Rome
Photo: GUGLIELMO MANGIAPANE / REUTERS
Rafael Nadal held out in the first set.
The 35-year-old Spaniard took a 6-1 lead in the Round of 16 match of the Tennis Masters in Rome against Denis Shapovalov - a hard-fought 5-7 followed before Nadal was no longer able to oppose the Canadian and lost 2-6 in the decisive third set .
In the end it looked as if Nadal was only struggling across the court. The Spaniard was no longer running smoothly, and he had problems with the jump when he served himself.
For the first time since 2008, the clay court specialist missed the quarter-finals in Rome, where he has already won ten times.
The reason for this was not only Shapovalov's strong resistance, but also an ailment that has been plaguing Nadal for a while.
"I'm not injured, I'm a player who lives with an injury," Nadal said as he sat in the press conference just minutes after his departure.
The Spaniard has been struggling with foot problems for a long time, the so-called Müller-Weiss syndrome is bothering him.
"Sometimes I don't feel anything, sometimes the pain is crazy," said Nadal, "like today".
Long break already in 2021
Because of the injury, the long-standing number one in the world had to miss almost the entire second part of the season last year since the French Open.
His comeback at the beginning of the year was all the more impressive when he won his 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open - more than anyone else.
Title number 22 is supposed to follow in Paris from May 22nd.
Nadal has triumphed thirteen times at Roland Garros.
But a start at the second Grand Slam of the year seems at least questionable.
"I can't comment on that," Nadal said.
"Unfortunately, my everyday situation is very complicated, and that's sometimes difficult for me to accept." Nadal did not want to make a prognosis for the healing process.
'What will be in the next few days?
I dont know.
What in a week?
I really can't tell."