The French Open without Rafael Nadal would be like a beachfront without the waves. As the Roland Garros begins in Paris on Sunday, the absence of one man is still making headlines. Nadal, who has won the singles title 14 times on the brick-red Parisian Clay, almost owns the perimeters of some of the courts in the French Open.

History changes as time does. Few could have imagined that the clay master, who is known for his many feats, will have to miss the 2023 edition. Last week, when the 22-time Grand Slam champion announced at a media conference that he would be taking a long leave of absence indefinitely, many tears were shed. Nadal’s journey into the unknown and his leave break without a date for his return leaves millions in suspense.

In a world where men’s and women’s Tennis is in a constant state of flux, it is near impossible to predict the winners for the next two weeks. Carlos Alcaraz is also a Spaniard who realizes that he’s the World No.1. However, a loss at the French Open could lead to a rapid drop in ranking. In the women’s division, there are also many contenders for the title. However, the tag that is most popular is Iga Swiatek.

The personality of Nadal is the reason he’s still discussed in his absence. The impact of the Big 3 is well known. Roger Federer’s retirement in 2022 brought both fans and Rafa to tears. Rafael Nadal was facing a similar issue, this time relating to his fitness.

Wear and tear are obvious for a man that has played hard-hitting tennis. The body’s motion and dynamics were extremely physical. Unfortunately, the damage and tears in his body sustained in Melbourne at the Australian Open of January 2023 have not healed. He was on rest mode and followed the rehab and rest protocols according to the treatment plan. The pain is still intense when he practices on the court. It is unclear when Nadal will be returning in 2023. He has stated that he hopes to return for the Davis Cup at the end of the year.

Here’s the story. It is a little interpretative. Rafa is aware that he will have to be available for Davis Cup 2023 if he wants to compete in the Paris Olympics 2024, on the same clay court where the French Open takes place. It is clear that a player has to be in good standing with their national tennis federation, and available for Davis Cup. Nadal may make an appearance at the Davis Cup in late 2018.

Nadal’s protected ranking is the key to his participation

He can represent Spain at the Paris Olympics in 2024 if he plays Davis Cup singles, doubles, or both. The ITF website clearly outlines the qualification criteria for the Paris Olympics. The rankings will be taken into account as of the third week of June 2024. Direct acceptances and quotas are available for different regions.

Nadal is holding onto a protected ranking. This happens when a player has a long absence. A player’s protected ranking can be held by them during long absences or injuries. This will prevent a significant drop in their ranking. According to the most recent ATP rankings, Nadal ranks at 15.

Many women have been able to keep their protected ranking even when they take maternity leave. The protected ranking has helped women from Serena Williams up to Sania mirza come back to tournaments, and to ensure that they weren’t way down in the rankings. Sania was able to play the Tokyo Olympics doubles using a protected ranking. There was a singles protected ranking slot for Yuki Bhambri. Sumitnagal, who missed the bus because of an injury, went to Tokyo as a representative for India in 2021.

Nadal is still without a medal from the Olympics. He longs to win a medal like Andre Agassi did in 1996 at the Atlanta Olympics, and Andy Murray did in 2012 on Wimbledon grass. Nadal still has a chance of competing at the Paris Olympics. However, from now until June 2024 there are many variables.

On Saturday, it was interesting to see Alcaraz refer to Nadal as his role model. Alcaraz was quoted saying that he would love to have played doubles at the Paris Olympics with his senior idol from Spain. Alcaraz will be able to play singles if he is in the Top 10 of next year’s rankings. Alcaraz, however, could still qualify for the Olympics doubles draw, and choose his partner, because the ITF is biased in favor of singles specialists. Nadal would have a second chance if that happened.

It’s all a little speculative but there is still a window of opportunity for Rafael Nadal. Rafael Nadal could have a great emotional response to a doubles gold medal at the 2024 Olympics in Paris. Interesting, isn’t it?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here