‘I’d love to see Rafael Nadal play one more time – he’s a student of the game’, says tennis great

A delighted Rafael Nadal

Tennis legend Rod Laver has declared that he would love to get the chance to see fellow great Rafael Nadal play “one more time” before the Spaniard retires.

The 11-time Grand Slam singles champion hailed Nadal’s “great career” and described the 37-year-old as “a student of the game.”

Nadal has not competed since suffering a hip injury in his second round loss to Mackenzie McDonald at the Australian Open in January.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion underwent surgery on the issue in June, having initially expected to be out for only six to eight weeks. He was forced to postpone his proposed comeback during the clay-court season.

The 37-year-old won his most recent major crown at the 2022 French Open, defeating Casper Ruud in the final. Nadal also triumphed at the Australian Open in 2022, coming back from two sets down to edge Daniil Medvedev in an epic final, but has suffered with various injuries since Indian Wells that year.

On the final day of the 2023 Laver Cup last week, Laver – after whom the event is named – answered questions from tennis fans on Twitter. The two-time Calendar Grand Slam winner was asked how much he was looking forward to seeing Nadal play again when he returns.

“Rafa has had such a great career. I’d love to be able to see him play one more time. He’s a student of the game,” said the Australian in a Tweet.

Laver – who is the only man to win the Calendar Grand Slam in the Open Era, having achieved the remarkable feat in 1969 – also commented on Nadal’s injury-enforced withdrawal from this year’s French Open.

“You will be missed at Roland Garros this year @RafaelNadal, the King of Clay always. Your outstanding physical power, fighting spirit and dedication to tennis is unrivalled in the modern era. Rest up, mate. I look forward to seeing you again, on court or off,” Laver said on Twitter.

Nadal has won a remarkable record 14 Roland Garros titles and has lost just three times in 115 matches at the clay-court Grand Slam. This was the first season where the former world No 1 missed the French Open since 2004, having made his debut at the event in 2005.

In a press conference announcing his withdrawal from Roland Garros in May, Nadal outlined that next year would likely be his last on tour.

“My goal and my ambition is to try and stop and give myself an opportunity to enjoy the next year that will probably be my last year in the professional tour,” the Spaniard told reporters.

“That is my idea but I can’t say 100 per cent it will be like this, but my idea and my motivation is to try to enjoy and say goodbye to all the tournaments that have been important for me. To enjoy being competitive and something that today is not possible. I believe, if I keep going now, I will not be able to make it happen.”

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