Toni Nadal optimistic over Rafa's fitness

Rafael Nadal's uncle and former coach, Toni Nadal, is optimistic his nephew will play at the French Open but admitted Tuesday that the record 14-time champion will not arrive under ideal circumstances.

"Rafa is recovering, I think it won't be long before he can compete again, but in the tournament here (the Madrid Open) it could not be," Toni Nadal told Spanish public broadcaster TVE.

Rafa Nadal announced he would not participate in Madrid last week as he continues to recover from the hip injury he suffered in January in the Australian Open.

The 36-year-old said recovery was not going as planned and he would try a new type of treatment, without setting a deadline for himself to heal, casting doubt over his participation in Paris.

He is hoping to accomplish a record-extending 23rd men's Grand Slam title at Roland Garros, with the tournament beginning on May 28.

"Obviously he will not arrive with good preparation, we must not fool ourselves, because, obviously, since January 10 I think, he hasn't played any matches," added Toni Nadal.

Nadal pulled out of last month's hard-court tournaments in the US, with his sights set on a return at the start of the clay-court season, but it did not come to fruition, missing the Barcelona and Madrid events as well as Monte Carlo.

"He hasn't competed for quite some time, apart from that, before January, he didn't compete much either, but I think Rafael will pick up form soon," continued Toni Nadal.

"In a Grand Slam, it depends a lot on the draw. If you're lucky enough to have a good draw in the first rounds, then… well.

"Rafael in the second week is already a favourite, in the first week, lately maybe he is not, he was not last year in Australia, but from the second week, you say well, we can count on him.

"And I hope the same thing happens at Roland Garros."

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