Rafa Nadal said his fitness was “far from perfect” as he prepares to return to action after a debilitating rib injury that has left him racing against time to get back to peak condition for the French Open.
The 35-year-old, who clinched a men’s record 21st Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open earlier this year, suffered a stress fracture in his rib at Indian Wells, where he lost in the final to Taylor Fritz on March 20.
The injury has forced him to miss the claycourt events in Monte Carlo and Barcelona.
He is now battling to get back to his best before the French Open, which begins on May 22 and where he will bid for a record-extending 14th title.
The Spaniard will make his return at the ATP Masters 1000 Madrid Open on Wednesday.
“I’m recovered from the injury but tennis and preparation is another story,” Nadal told a news conference on Sunday.
“Those who have broken their ribs know how much it limits you and for the first few weeks I had difficulty sleeping because of the pain.