Nadal slowly getting into shape for French Open

 Rafael Nadal.
Rafael Nadal. AP

ROME (AP) — Rafael Nadal’s clay-court form is slowly rounding into shape.

Not that nearly invincible shape that the tennis world grew accustomed to over the past two decades. But a shape that the 22-time Grand Slam champion is starting to feel good about as he prepares to play what will likely be his final French Open.

“It’s a good moment, even if the results are not what (they) used to be,” Nadal said at the Italian Open on Wednesday. “But I am increasing my feeling, my level. … I want to keep going.”

The 37-year-old Nadal, who has indicated that this will be his final year on tour, has played only nine matches this year after missing nearly all of 2023 due to a hip injury that required surgery.

But he’s coming off his most encouraging performance of the year, having put together three straight wins at the Madrid Open last week before losing in straight sets to 31st-ranked Jiri Lehecka in the fourth round.

Before Madrid, he won only one match in Barcelona.

“The line is going up, without a doubt,” Nadal said, making a gesture with his hand to demonstrate his improvement. “Happy to be today where I am because one month ago for me was almost impossible to think that I will be able to play in Barcelona, then in Madrid, and now being here in Rome. … Things are happening. / AP

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