Rafael Nadal - Roland Garros 2022

Rafael Nadal facing ‘real challenge’ to win Roland Garros, claims legend

Rafael Nadal will face a ‘real challenge’ at Roland Garros, according to the only player comparable to him on clay.

Chris Evert finished her career with a 94.55% winning record on clay having lost just 22 of her 404 matches on the surface.

That is actually a better record that Nadal, although the Spaniard has won many more French Open titles.

Nadal will be hoping to win a 15th Roland Garros crown this year, but he will have to overcome injury to do it given he is currently on the shelf with an abdominal problem he has described as ‘a big, big breakdown.’

Evert believes he can do it, but she admits she has concerns for Nadal despite his dominance over the years on clay.

“Again, I don’t think he needs to protect himself from the mental or emotional part of his game. I think it’s more just keeping your body as healthy as possible,” Evert said.

“And you know what? The French Open again, clay, longer rallies, longer matches, the spotlight on it. That’s going to be a real challenge.”

Nadal will head into the French Open with serious question marks over his fitness after a torrid 18-months of injuries.

Evert, though, does not feel it’s the type of injuries that have blighted Nadal, but the number of them and the fact they cannot be avoided with his ‘warrior’ play-style.

“His injuries have not been too catastrophic, where he stays out for a year, like many other players,” she said. “But what Rafa has to do for the future is really preserve his body, because he has been a warrior and there has been a lot of wear and tear because he gives 100% in training and gives 100% in matches.

“And he’s a very physical player. And again, his style is simply to survive, to outdo his opponent. So he’s spent many hours hitting balls.

Recent Rafael Nadal injuries

Rafael Nadal has really struggled with injury since Roland Garros in 2021. That was one of the few years he didn’t win the French Open as he lost to eventual winner Novak Djokovic in the semi-final.

It was around that time that his generative foot injury, Mueller-Weiss syndrome, which he has been battling for most of his career, flared up.

READ MORE: Rafael Nadal foot injury: What is Mueller-Weiss syndrome?

That cost him the rest of his season apart from a very brief comeback attempt, with him forced out of both Wimbledon and the US Open.

Nadal appeared to be over it come the start of 2022, though. He won the Australian Open and then kept on winning. He claimed the Acapulco title and went to the final of Indian Wells. There, though, he suffered a cracked rib that brought his momentum to a screeching halt.

He returned in time for Roland Garros and, with the help of painkilling injections to his foot, he won a 14th French Open crown. However, the foot injury was a real problem again.

An all-or-nothing round of radio-frequency treatment designed, not to cure the problem, but to numb the pain, followed. It was a huge success, and he headed off to Wimbledon.

Rafael Nadal Wimbledon 2022

In London Nadal was electric, enjoying a run to the semi-finals before having to withdraw due to a fresh abdominal issue.

That issue has plagued him since. He thought he was past it at the US Open, but he wasn’t. He tried again at the Australian Open but he once again broke down.

When will Nadal be back from injury?

Rafael Nadal has recently given more detail, confirming it is a ‘tear is in the psoas’ and saying he has ‘no choice’ but to be patient with it.

“I am taking it week by week, I’m having tests to see the progress [I am making] from the injury,” Nadal said.

“I haven’t talked much since what happened in Australia, but in Australia I had a big, big breakdown.

“It was a very big tear in the muscle, I tore a little bit of the tendon. It is a very complicated place in the psoas, in all sports, but in tennis we get strength from there, so it is a slower recovery than we would like.

“We have no choice but to be a little patient; it is true that the calendar is passing and that I am no longer 20 years old, and after a year like the one I’ve been having, one gets tired, but I do what I can.”

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Michael Graham, Editor, has been a professional sports journalist for his whole career and is especially passionate about tennis. He's been the Editor of for over 5 years and loves watching live tennis by visiting as many tournaments as possible. Michael specialises in writing in-depth features about the ATP & WTA tours.