Rafael Nadal declines invite as fans left in the dark on French Open appearance

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Further doubts have been cast over Rafael Nadal’s participation at the French Open after declining an invitation to compete at the Bordeaux Challenger. The Spaniard had been offered a wildcard for the event, but did not take up the offer amid concerns that he will not be able to return from injury in time to compete at Roland Garros.

Video footage that emerged on Friday appeared to indicate that the 36-year-old is still suffering with pain, having been out of action since suffering a hip injury at the Australian Open in January. The 22-time Grand Slam champion recently pulled out of the Rome Masters to continue his rehabilitation, as it seems increasingly likely that if Nadal does feature in Paris then he will not have had much preparation for the tournament.

In a recent interview with L’Equipe, Bordeaux challenger director Jean-Baptiste Perlant confirmed a wildcard was offered to Nadal: “I offered him [Nadal’s agent Carlos Costa] one of the wildcards. He very kindly told me that Nadal was continuing his preparation at home in Manacor, that he was not ready and was in a race against time to be ready for the French Open.”

Just weeks away from the French Open, it appears that this may be the first year of his career where Nadal enters Roland Garros without playing any clay events beforehand – a challenge even for the 14-time winner of the tournament.

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The world No 14 also missed Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid tournaments after announcing that he was changing his treatment plan last month in a statement. Nadal said: “As you know I suffered a major injury in Australia, in the psoas. Initially it had to be a six-to-eight-week recovery period and we’re on to number 14. The reality is that the situation is not what we had hoped for.

“All medical directions have been followed, but somehow evolution has not been what we were initially told and we find ourselves in a situation that is difficult.

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“The injury is still unhealed and I can’t work what I need to compete. I was training, but now a few days ago we decided to change course a bit, do another treatment and see if things improve to try and get to what comes.”

There will also be concerns over Nadal’s place at Wimbledon if he does pull out of the French Open, as his body has struggled to adapt to grass in recent years, while he will likely drop out of the top 100 players in the world without an appearance at Roland Garros.

He is defending 2000 points in Paris and even just a quarter-final berth would see him drop from 14 to the edge of the top 50.

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