End of career for Nadal

ByAshraf Ali Siddiqi

In electronic media


June 3, 2023

Rafael Nadal End Of Career

Ashraf Ali Siddiqui describes the grand finale of an exceptional presence in sports

Rafael Nadal was a formidable star on the global tennis circuit and he played exceptionally for more than a decade. His record at the French Open is unlikely ever to be broken. Since his 2005 championship-winning debut, he has racked up 112 wins and has only been defeated three times. Two of those losses came against great rival Novak Djokovic in 2015 and 2021. The other was to Robin Soderling in 2009. But the vagaries of time compelled Nadal to withdraw from the French Open because his hip injury has not healed and he mentioned that 2024 may be his final year in professional tennis. He added that it was not the decision he was taking but it was his body that is urging him to do so.

Rafael Nadal said he was taking a few months off, meaning he will also definitely miss Wimbledon and most likely the US Open, before starting to play again. And he said next year would bring down the curtain on a career that has so far produced 22 Grand Slam singles titles. The former world number one has not played since the Australian Open in January where he picked up a hip injury in a shock second-round loss to Mackenzie McDonald of the United States. He was expected to recover within six weeks, comfortably in time for the claycourt season and to launch an assault on a record-extending 15th title at Roland Garros. However, with his 37th birthday little over two weeks away and having skipped Masters events in Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome, Nadal appears to be facing a final battle he cannot win.

After a career plagued by knee, wrist and foot injuries in particular, the alarm bells have been ringing ever louder over the last year. Nadal’s undefeated start to 2022, which saw him pick up a second Australian Open title, ended with a chest injury at Indian Wells. He swept to a 14th French Open in June but only after revealing he had required daily pain-killing injections in his foot, a consequence of suffering from Mueller-Weiss Syndrome, a rare degenerative condition. He said that he played with no feeling in the foot with a pain-killing injection in the nerve. The foot was asleep and that is why he was able to play. He added that he would undergo a treatment which would involve burning the nerves in his foot to permanently dull the pain. Weeks later, his dream of a third Wimbledon title ended in a semi-final withdrawal due to an abdominal strain.

Nadal’s lengthy absence this year has also seen him drop out of the world’s top 10 for the first time in 18 years. He mentioned that it is probably going to be his last year on the professional tour adding that he cannot say it 100 per cent because one never knows what is going to happen. He said that the injury he suffered in Australia has not healed as he hoped. Roland Garros became impossible that he badly regrets as he will be there after many years, with everything that tournament meant to him. Nadal said he will not set a date for his return but said the Davis Cup in November could be a potential target.

Djokovic, who shares the men’s record of 22 Slams with Rafael Nadal, will start as a French Open favourite this year alongside world number one Carlos Alcaraz who is desperate not to see his Spanish compatriot throw in the towel. Alcaraz hoped that Nadal may continue to play for a long time and that people will keep on enjoying his wonderful performance on the court. The Weekender


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