PARIS Rafael Nadal will not be protected with a higher seeding at the French Open, tournament director Gilbert Ysern said on Saturday.
Roland Garros committee member Guy Forget suggested last month that the Spaniard, who has slipped to fifth in the world rankings, should be protected to avoid a potential quarter-final clash with world number one Novak Djokovic.
"Considering what Nadal represents in Paris, i.e. the best player in the tournament's history, it seemed incongruous that he arrives in Paris with the number 4 or 5 bib," Ysern told French sports daily L'Equipe, adding that he backed off because the move would not have been welcomed.
"But it was said to be fiddling," he said.
"What was supposed to be a strong symbol, a tribute, was seen as messy business."
Nadal, who missed seven months of tennis because of a knee injury, trails world number four David Ferrer in the ATP rankings and has little chance of closing the points gap before the French Open begins on May 26.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ed Osmond)