Despite a wrist injury that forced him to miss two slams this year, former gold medalist Rafael Nadal will push on and compete for Spain in all three tennis events at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics.
Nadal, 30, sat out both the French Open (where he’s won a record nine times) and Wimbledon the last two months because of the nagging left wrist injury, but he made it clear that representing Spain after missing the 2012 London Games is important to him.
"It's evident that the condition of my wrist is not ideal and if it wasn't the Olympics, I would not take this risk,” Nadal told a Spanish radio station Wednesday. "However, having spoken to my team and with Conchita (Martinez), I've decided to play the singles and everything else.
"There is always a risk but I trained six hours between Monday and Tuesday and although the wrist still bothers me, at least it hasn't worsened and that is great news.
"I already missed London."
The 2008 Beijing gold medalist made his decision after two days of practice in Rio, and he plans to compete against the heavily favored No. 1 draw Novak Djokovic and defending gold medalist and No. 2 Andy Murray for the men’s singles title.
After Swiss rival Roger Federer bowed out with his own injuries, Nadal is the third seed and will start singles play against Argentina’s Federico Delbonis in the first round. Delbonis is 25 years old and ranked No. 43. In head-to-head meetings, Nadal won both matches in straight sets.
Nadal will also play alongside Marc Lopez in doubles and Garvine Muguruza in mixed doubles.
While representing his country and acting as Spain’s flag bearer during Friday night’s Opening Ceremony, age and time are likely major factors Nadal must have considered before confirming his participation. A knee injury kept Nadal out of the 2012 games and it was the same knock that limited his play until his breathtaking 75-7 record with two slams in 2013.
But since then Nadal’s teetered between brilliant and injured, and it’s possible the Rio Games will be the last chance to claim gold and lead the Spanish contingency.
"I'm going to do as best as possible in every event I play in," Nadal said. "The doubles might be a better option for me considering how I arrive to the Olympics but you never know.
"The only thing I can say is that I will give my best and no one is going to take away my enthusiasm to compete at the Olympics in whatever way I can and to try to win a medal."
Here are details for Nadal's single's schedule at Rio.
Round 1 Opponent: Frederic Delbonis (Argentina)
Round 1 Start Time: Sunday (Time TBD)
Round 2 Opponent: Winner of Andreas Seppi (Italy) vs. Illya Marchenko (Ukraine)
Full Draw: Click here