Rafael Nadal is making the most of his French Open 2023 absence. The Spaniard, who has founded his own tennis academy, as well as a school in his hometown of Mallorca, enjoyed a fun day with his young students, training and interacting.
The Rafa Nadal International School, which is a part of the 22-time Grand Slam champion’s tennis academy, celebrated its School Sports Day on Friday, May 26.
The tennis legend was present to mark the occasion this time around, having announced that he wouldn’t be in Paris for this year’s French Open. He was in good spirits as he spent time assisting the little ones personally, who seemed elated by his presence.
Tennis commentator and former player Mark Petchey was at the academy grounds to witness Rafael Nadal’s interaction with the young hopefuls. He shared a few videos from the day, hinting that he was checking off a bucket list item by visiting the former World No. 1’s tennis academy.
“Tennis bucket list item about to be ticked off. He may not be playing but he is about to coach….” Petchey said.
The former player shared a video of Rafael Nadal being greeted with thunderous applause upon arrival.
“Enter the legend,” he said.
He remarked that the children won’t be too sad about the tennis legend’s French Open absence, thanks to his special appearance and assistance.
“This kid isn’t going to mind @RafaelNadal missing practice week for @rolandgarros,” he noted.
The Spaniard’s academy too shared a few joyous highlights from the day.
Mark Petchey also visited the Rafa Nadal museum, which displays the Spaniard’s vast list of achievements.
“Blood, sweat, tears but ultimately cheers,” Petchey said, acknowledging the 22-time Grand Slam champion’s illustrious career.
“They have been difficult years; the victories mask it”– Rafael Nadal on his physical struggles in recent years
Rafael Nadal’s first long injury break came in 2021, after his semifinal loss at that year’s French Open. At the time, the Spaniard had revealed that a persistent foot injury was preventing him from playing his best tennis. He was thus forced to cut his season short in an attempt to fully recover.
The former World No. 1 came through with flying colors upon his return in 2022. He bagged three back-to-back titles, including a historic 21st Grand Slam at the Australian Open. He then extended his Slam tally to 22 at the French Open.
Things, however, started to fall apart for the Spaniard in the second half of the season. He incurred a poor win-loss ratio and contested fewer tournaments due to numerous injuries, including a stress fracture in his rib.
In his recent press conference, Rafael Nadal admitted that the past few years have been physically taxing for him despite the favorable results he has earned.
“In recent years, although the results have been of my first level, my day-to-day life has been at a very low level. The years after the pandemic have been very difficult,”he said. “They have been difficult years although the victories mask it.”
The 36-year-old’s 2023 season has been a lost cause, as he was unable to break his streak of underwhelming results at the 2023 Australian Open. He also suffered a hip injury during his loss and hasn’t played a competitive match since.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion announced that he will be taking a few months off as he recuperates and also hinted that 2024 is likely to be the final competitive season of his career.
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