Rafael Nadal to play until he is 40? Former world No 1 explains why Spaniard has a few more years left

Rafael Nadal celebrates Australian Open win

Rafael Nadal has been backed to continue playing for a “three or four more years” with Mats Wilander saying winning a Grand Slam will be “much easier” than staying in the top three of the ATP Rankings.

Having started the 2022 season under an injury cloud after missing the backend of last year due to his chronic foot problem, Nadal enjoyed a remarkable campaign as he won the Australian Open and French Open to move clear at the top in terms of majors won as he now sits on 22.

Although he finished No 2 in the world, his season petered out as he only played a handful of matches after his fourth-round exit from the US Open, failing to make it out of the group stage of the season-ending ATP Finals.

The 36-year-old has repeatedly stated that he is not too sure how long he will continue to play, but he is determined to enjoy every moment while still active.

Former world No 1 and tennis pundit Wilander feels the 22-time Grand Slam winner still has a few more years left in the tank.

“I would think that after you won your last Grand Slam tournament, there are about three or four years left in you, for sure, especially if you keep your ranking in the top eight,” the Swede told Eurosport.

“If you have just won the Australian Open and the French Open in 2022, I would say you have three or four more years.

“I don’t care about the fact that Rafa turns 40 in four years. I don’t think it matters because you are going to have in your mind ‘hey, kids, I’ve done this now since I was 17-18 years old’.

“It is five sets, that is a marathon, but if you sprint, you are going to kill yourself, you are going to get too tired, and if you walk, he will be faster than you.”

Wilander also added that Nadal might not play too many tournaments and instead just focus on the four Grand Slams.

He continued: “I think that keeping his ranking up is going to be very tough. Winning another Grand Slam is going to be easier, much easier, than being in the top three in the world in the rankings because you don’t need that.

“You can just try to pinpoint your events to pick at the right time. It is the week before the Australian Open, Roland-Garros, Wimbledon, and the US Open and you can find form and feel it.

“Rafa knows what he is looking for: he knows emotionally what he is looking for; he knows physically what he is looking for.

“He knows how much he has to train to have any chance of achieving that feeling, both physically and mentally. If his injuries are okay, I think he is going to get there.

“Then you have to win points at 30-30, 4-4 in the fifth set, you have 10 different choices, and only one of them is correct and how to make that decision right is key.

“There is a lot of luck involved, for sure. I think Rafa is going to need a bit of luck, but he would say he always got a bit of luck. When you win that much, you need a bit of luck, and so I think he is going to be back.”

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