Rafael Nadal says he hasn’t yet fully recovered from a foot issue that kept him out of Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics but he hopes a US Open tune-up event in Toronto will help him regain confidence in his on-court movement.
Nadal’s first event since his epic semi-final loss to Novak Djokovic at the French Open ended in a shock third-round exit in Washington on Thursday and the Spaniard admitted his left foot was still holding him back.
“It’s been a couple of tough months for me in terms of physical issues,” world No.3 Nadal told reporters at the Masters 1000 event in Toronto, where first-round action starts on Monday.
“I know I am not at my peak yet, but I think I have been practising better than what I played in Washington so I am excited to keep going here and be able to play a little bit better than there.”
Nadal said a recurring foot issue he has been dealing with since 2005 returned at Roland Garros, where he fell to eventual champion Djokovic before deciding to sit out two of the year’s biggest events.
“Some moments the situation is worse and some moments the situation is better,” said Nadal.
“After Paris my foot was not recovering. I was in a lot of pain for a couple of weeks so I couldn’t train. I stayed around 20 days without touching a racquet, trying to recover.”
Nadal, who as the second seed in Toronto has a first-round bye, said that while he would like to taste victory before heading to the US Open, which begins at the end of the month, his main focus is to regain confidence in his foot.
“I need to find again the positive feelings with my foot,” said the 20-times grand slam champion.
“I really need to have a couple of weeks with less pain to have the confidence again on my movements, knowing that I will be able to go out and compete for a long time … that’s something that I am looking for in this tournament.”