French Open favourite Carlos Alcaraz is hopeful Rafael Nadal can return from injury for a final shot at Roland Garros next year.
The 14-time winner was forced to miss this year’s event for the first time since 2004 with an ongoing hip injury and looks likely to be absent for the rest of the season, but the 36-year-old has set his sights on a final competitive year if his body allows.
And Alcaraz, the tournament No1 seed, said: “I felt bad when I hear that Rafa, he was not able to play here in Roland Garros and probably the rest of the year. I always want to watch Rafa playing. Hopefully we’ll see him next year that he’s 100%.”
The 20-year-old has enjoyed a good clay-court build-up to Paris, winning titles in both Barcelona and Madrid, but faces a potential semi-final match-up against Novak Djokovic as the Serbian bids for an outright record 23rd Grand Slam title.
Alcaraz reached the quarter-finals of the French Open last year before losing in four sets to Alexander Zverev.
Asked if he was a better player 12 months on, the Spaniard said: “Talking about tennis, I would say I’m the same player than last year. The only change that I would say is that I’m more mature.
“And mentally I’m better, and I can read what happens on the court better than last year. For me, it’s really, really important and I would say it’s the most different from last year.”
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