John McEnroe on rumours Rafael Nadal may be contemplating retirement

Kevin Palmer
Rafael Nadal takes a break
Rafael Nadal looks on

The rumours have been swirling suggesting this may be the last year of Rafael Nadal’s record-breaking career, but John McEnroe believes there could still be moments of glory to come for the 22-time Grand Slam champion.

Nadal’s defence of the Australian Open he won in such dramatic fashion a year ago ended with a second round defeat against American Mackenzie McDonald last week, as injuries again appeared to hamper his progress.

The 35-year-old missed a large section of last season due to injury, after he started the year winning in Melbourne and collecting a remarkable 14th French Open title.

Now there are suggestions that Nadal may be considering calling time on his career after playing one tournament at Roland Garros this summer, yet tennis legend McEnroe has insisted the great Spaniard should never be written off.

“I don’t think he will play for long if he doesn’t think he can still win majors,” stated McEnroe, speaking during the Australian Open, which is live and exclusive on discovery+ and Eurosport.

“It’s not for me to say when a player should retire, but let’s say this; Nadal won the Australian Open and the French Open last year. He was named as Player of the Year. That was only last year.

“The second half of the year, he had issues with injuries and became a father and I think his priorities shifted a little. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to play.

“He has pulled out of majors before. He pulled out of the US Open, he pulled out of Wimbledon and he has always found a way to get back to that level where he can win majors.

“From what I hear, he wants to play and God bless him if he does. He has been great for our game and we’ll have to wait and see.”

Nadal has hinted he may not play at the highest level for too much longer, with the hip injury he sustained in the Australian Open likely to keep him out for six to eight weeks, raising the prospect of him missing the Indian Wells and Miami Masters events.

McEnroe admits the timing of retirement is a tough call for all athletes, especially when you have operated at Nadal’s level for so long.

“Who knows if this is his last year,” he added.

I’ve heard one he will stop at the French Open. The other is he will play for three more years.

“Now he is out for a couple of months and I think he would try and get ready for the clay court season, but a hip injury is difficult. It’s the most challenging injury I dealt with.

“You always want players to go out on their terms, but at 36 there is a lot of wear and tear on Nadal’s body.”

Nadal has dismissed claims that he is close to following his great friend and rival Roger Federer into tennis retirement.

Yet the truth must be he doesn’t know how his body will respond to this latest injury, while he continues to nurse an ongoing foot problem.

Watch every match from the Australian Open live and exclusive on discovery+ and Eurosport