Nadal faces ban from farewell tournament as Spaniard praying for rule change

Rafael Nadal set for 2024 farewell after pulling out of French Open

Rafael Nadal may run into trouble if he looks to represent Spain at the 2024 Paris Olympics, with current ITF rules preventing him from playing in the tournament. The Spaniard would need a special exemption, like the one Roger Federer received before Tokyo 2020, if he is to get his pre-retirement wish.

Nadal shed light on his future plans during a tell-all interview in Spain earlier this week. The veteran tennis star has been out of action since January as he continues to recover from a series of injury woes, and he is planning to return to the court in 2024.

“I’m not going to tell you that it’s my last year 100 per cent and that I have it planned,” he said. “Because what if it’s not like that? My hope is in two months to know how and where I am. The 2024 Olympics in Paris would be a nice end to my career if I feel good.”

Nadal went on to explain that he is keen on forming a doubles partnership with compatriot and reigning Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz.

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“I have not had the slightest conversation with him in that regard,” added the 37-year-old. “But I would also like to and it would be a good motivation, another incentive for me to be able to close my Olympic cycle.”

For all of Nadal’s hopes and dreams, ITF rules state that he is unable to compete at the Paris Olympics because he will not have represented Spain in the Davis Cup for the two years leading up to the Games.

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At least according to German tennis chief Dietloff von Arnim, who said during an interview with CityAM earlier this summer: “Why do we make it so difficult? Under the rules we make it difficult. Make it easy for them to play there. They want to play.”

Federer found himself in a similar predicament back in 2019, having announced his intention to compete at the Tokyo Olympics despite not meeting the requirements for Davis Cup appearances. The Swiss Tennis Federation ultimately made it happen by successfully applying for an exemption, even though injury forced the 20-time Grand Slam winner to withdraw anyway.

Nadal may need the powers that be in Spain to pull strings in similar fashion. The clay-court specialist is no stranger to success at the Olympics. Back in 2008, he won gold for Spain in the men’s singles, and he went on to match the feat in doubles eight years later in Rio de Janeiro.

Turning out in Paris would be a fairytale send-off for Nadal, with the tournament being played at Roland Garros, where the Spaniard has won a staggering 14 French Open titles over the course of his career.

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