August 8, 2021

By Frank Pingue

LONDON (Reuters) – Rafa Nadal said on Sunday he had not yet fully recovered from a foot issue that kept him out of Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics but hopes a U.S. Open tune-up event in Toronto will help him to regain confidence in his on-court movements.

Nadal’s first event since his semi-final loss at the French Open ended in a shock third-round exit in Washington on Thursday and the Spaniard admitted his left foot was holding him back.

“It’s been a couple of tough months for me in terms of physical issues,” world number three 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 Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals 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 Aug. 30-Sept. 12 U.S. Open his main focus is regaining confidence in his foot.

“I need to find again the positive feelings with my foot,” said 20-times Grand Slam champion Nadal.

“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.”

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar)