Fans flock to watch Nadal test the clay at Roland Garros

Agence France-Presse
Fans flock to watch Nadal test the clay at Roland Garros
Spain's Rafael Nadal greets fans as he leaves the field after being defeated by Poland's Hubert Hurkacz during the Men's ATP Rome Open tennis tournament at Foro Italico in Rome on May 11, 2024.
Filippo Monteforte / AFP

PARIS – Even in a training session for a tournament he might yet miss, Rafael Nadal still drew a crowd at Roland Garros on Monday (Tuesday Manila time).

Six days before the main tournament start, the 14-time French Open winner trained on the Parisian Central Court on Monday afternoon, with several thousand spectators in the stands.

Nadal hadn't set foot on the Paris clay court since he won his last title in 2022, when he played through the fortnight with his left foot anaesthetized to numb the pain caused by Mueller-Weiss syndrome, a chronic condition that has afflicted him since he was 18.

For a simple training session, the Spaniard made his entrance on the Court Philippe-Chatrier in front of some 6,000 spectators, who had turned out for the first day of qualifying.

Five minutes before the scheduled start of his session chants of  "Rafa, Rafa, Rafa" were already ringing round the three-quarters-full court.

The 22-time major winner, whose career twilight has been darkened by injuries since January last year, will play the tournament for the last time, but only, he says if he feels ready.

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