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Rafael Nadal next match: When will French Open champion play next? Return date revealed

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Rafael Nadal next match: When will French Open champion play next? Return date revealed

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Rafael Nadal, the new French Open champion, says a period of introspection in the locker room at the Madrid Open earlier this year gave him the determination to drive through his injury doubts and embark on a run that culminated in his latest win at Roland-Garros.

The Spaniard lifted his 12th Paris title in 15 years with a largely routine win in four sets over dangerous fourth seed Dominic Thiem.

The victory saw Nadal extend his almost flawless record at the Grand Slam where he has dominated ever since he emerged as a hard-hitting teenager.

Nadal came into the fortnight on a stop-start run blighted by niggling injuries, but Thiem’s capture of the second set in the deciding match was only the second time the pre-tournament favourite dropped a set on his path to the final.

In the aftermath of his 12th French Open title win, Nadal was open about the physical and mental struggles he has faced and realistic about the schedule he feels he needs to set for himself in order to reach peak form and fitness in time for the imminent start of Wimbledon.

Avenging his Barcelona Open semi-final defeat to Thiem and repeating the result of last year’s French Open final, Nadal admitted: “Last year was a tough year.

“I played nine events and was only able to finish seven tournaments in the whole year. Then I had issues with my knee and had to have surgery on my foot.

“The beginning of this season was positive in terms of performance but I had issues at Indian Wells and Brisbane – too many issues in the last 18 months, so that makes these last few weeks very, very special.”

When is Rafael Nadal’s next match – will Nadal play before Wimbledon?

Rafael Nadal has options should he wish to play competitive tennis before the UK Grand Slam.

This includes a potential appearance at Queen’s, which is held in west London and is expected to feature an appearance by Andy Murray this year.

Rival Novak Djokovic, who lost to Thiem in the semi-finals at Roland-Garros, played at Queen’s last year but Nadal decided against entering shortly before the start of the warm-up tournament.

Nadal cited a long clay court season as the reason for pulling out, calling Queen’s – where he won the title in 2008 – a “great tournament”.

This season the 2010 Wimbledon champion has opted not to enter any competitions before attempting to continue his menacing form at SW19.

He said: “I will not play before Wimbledon, of course. As everybody knows, I am not able to play so many weeks in a row like I did ten or eight years ago.

“I felt competitive in the last couple of years so why should I change that? What gives me a better chance is being healthy, more than playing a lot of matches.”

Nadal said he had taken stock after his round of 32 win against Leonardo Mayer in Barcelona in mid-April, coming back from a set down to beat the world number 48 in three sets.

He admitted: “Mentally I was not enjoying it. I was too worried about my health and too negative, being honest.

“After the first round in Barcelona I was able to stay alone in the room for a couple of hours and think about what I needed to do.

“One possibility was to stop for a while and recover my body. The other was to drastically change my attitude and mentality to play in the next couple of weeks.

“I was able to fight back for every small improvement that I was able to make daily. I had issues but I always find a way to keep going.”

For a player who does not consider grass his preferred surface, Nadal’s last two Wimbledon campaigns have been impressive.

He departed at the semi-final stage with a 10-8 loss in the fifth set against eventual champion Djokovic in 2018.

And Nadal also missed out in a best of five with Gilles Muller the previous year, conceding the final set 15-13 in an extraordinary round of 16 match.

Nadal reflected: “I played a great event there last year and was very close to winning the title.

“Honestly, the last two years that I played at Wimbledon I felt close. Last year I was a point away from the final.”

Wimbledon begins on Monday, July 1, with the final Grand Slam of the year coming in New York at the end of August.

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