Rafael Nadal makes honest retirement confession ahead of Barcelona Open return

Ewan West
Rafael Nadal speaks ahead of the 2024 Barcelona Open
Rafael Nadal speaks at a press conference in Barcelona

Rafael Nadal has admitted he is treating his participation at the 2024 Barcelona Open as his last appearance at the event and reiterated this will likely be his final year in tennis. 

The 22-time major champion described it as a “gift” to be playing in Barcelona, while he did not rule out the prospect of playing beyond 2024 by saying: “I don’t know what will happen in the future.”

Nadal has delighted tennis fans by confirming he will make his return to action at this week’s Barcelona Open — a tournament he has won a record 12 times.

The Spaniard has been unable to compete since January — when he made his comeback after a year out through injury in Brisbane — due to continuous physical issues.

The 37-year-old was forced to withdraw from the 2024 Australian Open, events in Doha and Indian Wells, as well as last week’s Monte Carlo Masters.

READ MORE: Rafael Nadal makes a big comeback announcement – here is what we can expect next

Speaking at a press conference on Monday ahead of his appearance at the Torneo Conde de Godo, Nadal expressed his delight at finally being able to play competitively again.

“I came here a bit on a last-minute decision, not knowing if I could play, but tomorrow I’ll be on the court,” explained the former world No 1.

“I thought, ‘can I or can’t I?’ It has been a difficult two years. I come from a major hip operation, which takes time to recover. Things happen in the body and I couldn’t follow the schedule I wanted.

“When you can’t, you can’t. Although it hurts me, it is what it is. At this point in my career, I am in a different situation. For me, before regretting where I haven’t been able to be, for me, it is a gift to be in Barcelona.

“I take it as my last year and I want to enjoy every moment. I feel ready to play tomorrow. I don’t think about how I get there. I know what the situation is, that I am just preparing, but I am realistic. For me, being here is a joy.

“I take this as my last participation in the Godo [tournament]. I don’t know what will happen in the future, but I’m going to try to give myself my best chance. The week of training has been positive and I leave with the hope of doing my best.”

Nadal, who is playing his first clay-court tournament since winning the 2022 French Open almost two years ago, also shed light on how he has been feeling in training.

“I have enjoyed training. These moments compensate for others that are not so good. I am excited to continue playing. I know I have a difficult situation, but this is part of the athlete’s life. You have to take it as such,” added the Mallorcan.

Nadal will face world No 62 Flavio Cobolli in the opening round in Barcelona on Tuesday. This will be his first match at the ATP 500 event — where the centre court is named after him — since 2021.

READ MORE: Who is Flavio Cobolli? Meet the rising star of Italian tennis set to face Rafael Nadal