Rafael Nadal hopes to make Wimbledon but reveals ‘strange’ nerve sensations

Rafael Nadal hopes to make Wimbledon but reveals ‘strange’ nerve sensations

Rafael Nadal has confirmed that he will travel to London with the intention of competing at Wimbledon later this month as he continues his pursuit of the grand slam this season.

Nadal held a press conference at Mallorca Country Club, the venue of next week’s ATP 250 event, where he has been training in recent days after undergoing radiofrequency ablation treatment on his foot.

He said: “My intention is to try to play Wimbledon if there is any chance, and the feeling this week tells me there is a chance. My intention is to travel there; if as the days go by things don’t go as we expect, we’ll see what happens.”

Earlier this month Nadal won his 14th French Open title, extending his men’s all-time grand slam record to 22. Having arrived in Paris after suffering a flare-up of Mueller-Weiss syndrome, the degenerative ailment affecting his foot, at the Italian Open, Nadal revealed in his post-match press conferences that he had been competing with his foot under anaesthesia to numb the pain with the help of his doctor.

Nadal says he struggled with the pain in the days after the French Open, as his foot woke up from the nerve injections, but that there have been positive developments since his procedure and he will wait to see how it develops over the next week of preparation.

“What was done in Barcelona, where I was twice, is not a 100% immediate thing but changes are noticeable,” said Nadal. “I have noticed them. The sensations are a bit strange, if I’m honest. The joint pain that did not allow me to support myself has decreased.”

“With this treatment, sometimes one part of my foot goes numb, sometimes another [part] and sometimes I have cramps in my foot, but it seems to be normal. Apparently after a few weeks the nerve is reorganised and let’s hope that, when this is reorganised, everything will be fine.”

This season, the 20th of Nadal’s career, marks the first time in his life that he has won the first two grand slam tournaments of the year. Nadal won the Australian Open in his first major tournament following a long layoff due to his foot, but after starting the year 20-0 he suffered a rib fracture that forced him to withdraw from the first weeks of the clay season. Despite more issues with his foot, Nadal won the French Open earlier this month.

Nadal will compete at the Hurlingham exhibition event in London next week, as he has done in previous years, before Wimbledon begins on 27 June. “If all goes well, I have one week of training left in London,” said Nadal. “In the case of being able to complete it I hope to be competitive. Grass is a very difficult surface and, when you haven’t played for years, as is my case, any round is difficult. The start of the tournament is going to be vital for me.”

Nadal has not competed at Wimbledon since 2019 after being forced to withdraw from the tournament due to his struggles with his left foot last season. After struggling at Wimbledon for half a decade, failing to reach a single quarter-final between 2012 and 2017, Nadal reached consecutive semi-finals in 2018 and 2019. He won the title in 2008 and 2010.

“ I haven’t played Wimbledon for three years and I’m excited. I don’t know what can happen in five days,. I’m cautious but what has happened so far gives me hope that I can be present.”

In addition to the news of his possible presence in London, Nadal also confirmed that he and his wife, Maria Francisca Perello, are expecting their first child. The pair, who have been together since their youth, married in 2019.

“If everything goes well, I’m going to be a father,” said Nadal. “I don’t know how it will affect me because I don’t have experience. But I don’t expect fatherhood to mean a change in my professional life.”

As Nadal looks increasingly likely to compete at Wimbledon, Emma Raducanu’s hopes of doing the same remain in the balance after it was confirmed on Friday that she will not compete at next week’s Eastbourne International.

Raducanu had not initially entered what is the final warm-up tournament before Wimbledon due to the injury she suffered at the Nottingham Open, but after an initial scan there was hope of her recovering in time. But come Thursday, it appeaed unlikely that the 19-year-old would be fit enough to compete and that made clear 24 hours later when she was not named among the British wildcards for Eastbourne.

The surprise, delightful breakout week of Ryan Peniston at Queen’s came to an end in the Friday afternoon sun as he was defeated 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 by Filip Krajinovic in the quarter-finals of the ATP 500 event.

After reaching his first ATP quarter-final on his debut by defeating Casper Ruud, the world No 5, and the No 46-ranked Francisco Cerundolo, Peniston again flew out of the gates to take the first set. But over the course of the three sets the Serb separated himself with his quality all-court game that has marked him as a perennial top-100 player.

Peniston’s run had followed consecutive quarter-finals in Nottingham and Surbiton, a grass-court sequence that has propelled him from No 197 to his new career-high ranking of around 146 next week. The 26-year-old will play in Eastbourne next week and then makes his grand slam main draw debut at Wimbledon as a wildcard.

In Birmingham Katie Boulter’s quarter-final run was halted by an efficient Simona Halep, who edged through a tight first set before completing a simple victory, flitting through nine of the last 10 games to win 6-4, 6-1. Boulter, whose run included a career-best win over the world No 35, Alison Riske, in the opening round, also heads to Eastbourne next.