Rafael Nadal has admitted that he still believes 2024 could be his final year on the tour before retiring. The 22-time Grand Slam champion is gearing up to make his comeback at the Brisbane International before the Australian Open. But it could be a farewell for the Spaniard instead of a return, as he confessed that he could only play for half of the year. Nadal however refused to set any deadlines on his career, while also making a heartbreaking revelation that he contemplated stopping entirely during his injury layoff.
Nadal has been out of action since he injured his left psoas at the Australian Open back in January. He aborted plans to make a comeback and ended his season in May, calling a press conference in which he admitted 2024 could be his final year as a professional tennis player.
The 37-year-old later underwent surgery and is now ready to make a return at the beginning of next season. Nadal had not addressed his retirement comments since the press conference in question. But he has once again admitted that he will likely be forced to stop playing by the end of next year.
“There are many chances that it will be my last year without any doubt,” the former world No 1 said in a new video posted to social media. “There are chances that it may only be half a year, there are possibilities that it may be a full year, there are possibilities that we may not be able to reach all that…”
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Nadal admitted that he wouldn’t be able to judge whether or not he could continue beyond 2024, but that it was the most realistic option and he could enjoy tournaments as if he would no longer be able to return again. He continued: “These are things that right now I do not have the capacity to be able to answer, this is the truth. I am only in conditions to say that I return to compete, that I continue having in my head that the normal thing is that, or that there are many possibilities that it is my last year, and I am going to enjoy the tournaments in that way.”
However, the 92-time title winner still didn’t want to commit to anything just in case his body allowed him to continue beyond next season. “I do not want to announce it because in the end, I do not know what can happen. And I have to give myself the opportunity not to say one thing and then I can be a slave of what I have said,” he added.
“I think it is going to be like that but I can’t be 100 per cent sure. Because in the end I have worked a lot to come back to compete and if suddenly things and my physique allows me to continue and I enjoy what I do, why am I going to set a deadline? I think it makes no sense.”
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In the video, Nadal confessed that he also had upsetting thoughts of retiring during his year on the sidelines. The former No 1 failed in his attempt to make a return during the clay swing earlier this year before he ultimately ended his season and had surgery.
“Of course, I have thought many times that it did not make sense to continue playing, that in the end there have been many years, many things, many hours of work in which I did not see the result,” the 37-year-old admitted.
But he pointed to his May press conference once again, explaining that he wanted the chance to retire on the tennis court. “But I still think what I said in the last press conference, that I do not deserve to end my sports career in a press room. I would like to finish in a different way, and I have fought and kept the illusion for that to happen,” he explained.
Opening up on what made him decide to keep going, Nadal also credited his loved ones and his fans who wanted to watch him play again. He added: “With doubts, with bad moments, very bad or better moments, but I think I have had the right people around me as I have always had thoughout my career. Family, team, friends.
“I think everyone has helped me decisively to be where I am today, which is with the option of returning to compete. And I think that also the desire of people who want to watch me play again has also had an important impact on my day to day.”
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