French Open Rafa Nadal backhand

Rafael Nadal: ‘I have no big expectations for Italian Masters but I have had enough practice to compete’

Rafael Nadal says he has ‘no big expectations’ going into the Rome Masters other than to be competitive after seven months without a match.

Nadal last played competitively in Acupluco in February, although he did choose to skip Cincinnati and the US Open to prepare for clay season instead.

He is, though, still be big favourite in the Italian Open and Roland Garros due to his prowess on the red dirt.

However, he is putting no extra pressure on himself, particularly with a tough test against US Open semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta up first.

“[My] expectation is to always go on court and try to feel competitive,” Rafael Nadal told the press in Rome. “That’s the first goal.

“Go on court, feel [that I’m] competitive, and then I will see how I feel and what kind of goals I can look for.”

Nadal says that, despite managing his own expectations, he can’t use a lack of practice as an excuse, although a lack of matches may be a problem.

“I arrived in plenty of time to try and have the right practices”, he said.

“You need matches to feel 100 per cent… I’m excited about going back to competition, without big expectations.

“I know I have a tough first [match] against Pablo. He’s playing great. So let’s see, it’s going to be a good test.”

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.