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Nadal expected to make long-awaited return in Barcelona

Pedro Salado / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Rafael Nadal was drawn to face Flavio Cobolli at the Barcelona Open in what would be the Spaniard’s first clay-court appearance this year in the buildup to the French Open.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion had hip surgery last summer and this year has played only three competitive matches — in Brisbane before skipping the Australian Open.

The 37-year-old Nadal pulled out of the Monte Carlo Masters before it started because of a lingering injury, saying “my body simply won’t allow me.”

Nadal, a 12-time champion in Barcelona, has not confirmed he will play but he spoke at the draw ceremony ahead of the first round next week. He said, “I’m happy to be here,” but didn’t commit to playing.

In early March, Nadal played an exhibition match against Carlos Alcaraz in Las Vegas but days later pulled out of the Indian Wells tournament.

The French Open, which Nadal has won a record 14 times, begins May 25.


AP tennis:

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