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Rafael Nadal 4/1 to win 15th French Open after Indian Wells withdrawal

Rafael Nadal has decided to withdraw from the current Indian Wells event, leading to more concerns over his fitness and future in the sport.

The Spaniard pulled out of the tournament ahead of his first-round clash and admitted later that he is “not ready to play at the highest level” after recent injury issues.

Nadal has not played a competitive match since the Brisbane International in January and all his focus will now be on making sure he’s fully fit for May’s French Open.

Fitness not where Nadal wants to be

The former world number one suffered a hip injury in Australia at the start of the year which forced him to miss the first Grand Slam event of 2024.

He did play in an exhibition match against Carlos Alcaraz in Las Vegas earlier this month and hopes were high that the left-hander could have a good run at Indian Wells.

But, having been drawn to face Canada’s Milos Raonic in round one, Nadal decided to pull out of the event with ongoing fitness worries.

The 37-year-old said: "Everyone knows how much I love this place and how much I love to play here at Indian Wells.

"I have been working hard and practicing and you all know I took a test this weekend, but I don't find myself ready to play at the highest level at such an important event."

Having previously hinted that this could be his last year on the ATP Tour, he later refused to confirm that this would be his final season.

Speaking in January, the 22-time Grand Slam winner stated: "The problem about saying that it's going to be my last season is I can't predict what's going on 100 per cent in the future.”

The King of Clay desperate for more success

There will be worries now amongst his fans and backers that Nadal will not be fit enough to play in Paris – with the French Open getting underway on 20th May.

After this latest withdrawal, the 14-time French Open champion has been cut to 4/1 to lift the trophy in Paris, with fellow Spaniard Alcaraz the 6/4 favourite.

Although his schedule is not confirmed, it looks likely that his next tournament – if fit – will be April’s Monte Carlo Masters.

That will be on his favourite surface of clay and it’s an event that Nadal has won on 11 previous occasions, with his last victory there coming in 2018.

With his dominance in Paris coupled with his fitness concerns, a number of other clay-court specialists will feel this could be their year.

Alexander Zverev has reached the semi-finals of the French Open in the last three years and the German is currently available at 16/1 to lift the trophy in 2024.

Norway’s Casper Ruud lost in the 2022 and 2023 finals and is 16/1 to go one better this year, while the 2021 French Open runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas can also be backed at 16/1.

Holger Rune of Norway is a two-time semi-finalist in Paris and is 8/1 to claim the title this year, while defending champion Novak Djokovic is 9/4 to seal a fourth French Open success.

British hopes in the men’s singles appear to lie with Cameron Norrie - who is yet to get past the third round - and Jack Draper, with both players 80/1 to take the title.

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