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Nadal welcomes the unusual role of underdog
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Nadal welcomes the unusual role of underdog

Spanish tennis legend eager for Rome despite unseeded participation

ROME:

Spanish tennis legend Rafael Nadal said on Wednesday he was “excited to play in Rome” despite entering the Italian Open unseeded and ranked 305th.

“All matches are tough for me today, difficult and more unpredictable than before, especially on clay,” said the 37-year-old, 10-time winner of the Italian Open.

“I accept that role. I accept that challenge. I’m excited about the way I can play if I continue to work the right way and my body allows me.”

The 22-time Grand Slam singles champion recently returned to the circuit after a long absence due to injury.

He will open his campaign against Belgian qualifier Zizou Bergs with the Spanish icon taking nothing for granted but confident in his current match preparation.

“I am excited to play in Rome. It is a tournament that brings back many unforgettable memories,” said Nadal, who turns 38 on June 3.

“But it’s day by day. This will be almost my third week in a row on the tour, and almost my third tournament in a row.

“That hasn’t happened for a long time – that’s good news.

“I have to keep going. I have to keep discovering how to play every day.

“But I’m happy the way I feel today.”

Nadal is not the only top player with injury problems. Young stars Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz miss Rome.

“If you push your body to the limit, you will get injured,” Nadal said.

“If the game goes faster and faster and faster, you get injured.

“If you play on hard courts most of the year and the surface is harder on the body, you will get injured. That’s the simple answer.”

But he said such problems were inevitable.

“It’s also about the tournaments, about business, about sports.”

“At the end of the day, the players want to make money. The tournaments want to make money. The cycles come together.

“We accept that role. Things happen.”

“You can’t complain about that. You accept what happens. You keep going. You get injured, you have to recover well.

“They are young (Alcaraz and Sinner), they will have enough time to play in Rome and have a lot of success here. No drama.”