Rafa Nadal changes training plan to take it to Djokovic at French Open

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Rafael Nadal is continuing to make strides in his recovery from a leg injury he picked up at the Australian Open. The world No 9 has not played since but is now said to be eyeing the French Open crown in his race for history against Novak Djokovic. According to Barcelona Open tournament director David Ferrer, Nadal is now training more frequently and has his sights set on winning more Majors.

Nadal has been sidelined for two months after hurting his leg during his Australian Open second-round defeat to Mackenzie McDonald. The injury forced him to withdraw from events in Dubai, Indian Wells and Miami and will cost him his 18-year streak inside the world’s top 10, with the Spaniard set to exit for the first time on Monday.

But it appears that his woes are finally over, as retired pro Ferrer discussed the 36-year-old’s continued attempts to mount a comeback after confirming that Nadal had signed up for the Barcelona Open. “Rafa is already doing blocks of five days and little by little,” the tournament director revealed to Cope.

The 22-time Major champion is yet to confirm a comeback date but has put his name down for the Monte Carlo Masters and Barcelona ATP 500 – hinting at a return on the clay. And Ferrer said he was confident that the 12-time champion in Spain would be back in time for the tournament.

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“I have faith and confidence that he can get to the tour on the ground well and, above all, that he can be in Barcelona,” the former world No 3 added. “Knowing him, he will be very happy to return.”

And Ferrer also revealed that he thought Nadal was bidding to win as many Grand Slams as possible after Djokovic equalled his men’s singles record of 22 titles at the Australian Open. A former French Open finalist, Ferrer explained that the 36-year-old would want to return as soon as he could to build up some match experience in time for Roland Garros.

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He continued: “It’s an important year for him, a year where starting in Monte Carlo is going to be good because I think his primary objective is to win Roland Garros and more Grand Slams than any tennis player. Rafa understands and knows that for that he also needs match rhythm and the sooner he has it, the better.”

And Djokovic himself has already shared his wish to face Nadal in the final of the French Open – a one-match showdown with the men’s singles Grand Slam record on the line. “I would like to meet in the Roland Garros final, if I could choose, I believe we would both sign it now,” he told reporters at a recent press conference in Serbia.

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