What did Rafael Nadal say about his future? What are his plans for retirement?
In a press conference on Thursday, the injured Nadal revealed that he wouldn’t play at Roland Garros and spoke about his future and possible retirement.
Roland Garros has been incredibly kind to Rafael Nadal over the years but that, unfortunately, won’t be the case in 2023. The Spaniard has won the French Open an incredible 14 times since 2005, including last year, when he defeated Norwegian Casper Ruud in the final. However, the defending champion announced on Thursday that he wouldn’t be taking part in the tournament this year, which is due to start on 28 May.
Why is Rafael Nadal not playing in the 2023 French Open?
Nadal hasn’t played competitive tennis since suffering a hip flexor injury in the Australian Open in January, which had been expected to keep him out for between six and eight weeks. But four months have now passed and the 22-time Grand Slam winner, who has also suffered from chronic foot pain for a number of years, says “it’s not a decision I made, it’s a decision my body made”.
Given his recent injury history and his advancing years, in tennis terms at least, there are now questions over what the future holds for the 36-year-old, which he himself addressed at length on Thursday.
When will Nadal return to competitive tennis?
Here are the best bits of Nadal’s press conference:
“The injury I sustained in Australia has not progressed as we would have liked. As of today, it is impossible for me to be at Roland Garros. You can imagine how difficult it is for me. I have no intention of continuing to play in the coming months because, although my results have been really good, I’ve been really struggling day-to-day.
“Because it hasn’t been possible for me to recover, I will try to let my body recover without setting a return date. I am fine, but sad because I’ve missed an important season. Tennis-wise, I felt ready to fight for the biggest titles. However, physically it’s not the case, and you just have to accept that. You can get angry or sad, which is what I do, but we are already looking towards the future.”
Next year “probably” the last year for Nadal
“Playing in the Davis Cup at the end of the year could be a possible target, if the captain wants me to. Then I’ll try to prepare for what I feel will probably be my last year. I want to enjoy it, but right now that’s not possible.
“I hope to be able to play the tournaments that I feel like playing, the ones that have become important to me in recent years.
“There comes a time when the body says enough is enough. Although my mind doesn’t want to stop, my body does. We’ll see how long that’s the case and what the future holds. I don’t know what will happen next year. I may have certain intentions, but things will be determined by factors that I don’t control. Whether I will be competitive enough to win a Grand Slam again, I don’t know”.
“I don’t deserve to end my career in a press conference”
“I’m not going to keep training. I need to disconnect. Myself and all my team could all use a break. If I can play with a protected ranking to not take invitations away from others, great. If I have to do it with wild cards, it won’t be a problem either because I believe I have earned them.
“I don’t like saying these words, but I feel strong enough to say them: I don’t deserve to end my career like this, in a press conference”.
Nadal aiming for “grand finale”
“I will try my best to ensure that my last year is not just in a supporting role, I will do everything possible to compete at the highest level and try to win tournaments. I will fight for it, but we’ll have to wait to see what reality is.
“One stage of my life, in which we have been very happy and enjoyed some great moments that we could never have imagined, will come to an end next year. And from there another stage will begin, one that doesn’t have to be any less happy. I have some plans for the next few months, things that I haven’t done in the last 20 years, I will enjoy the freedom of not having to stick to any schedules, and then give it my all to be able to enjoy a grand finale. If my body responds, I have faith that I can achieve something big”.
Rafael Nadal press conference summary
“If I continue playing now, I don’t think I would be here next year. I’m not going to Roland Garros, I won’t play in the coming months, and my intention is for next year to be the last.”