‘Rafael Nadal retirement becomes imminent if he doesn’t win the French Open’, says former world No 1

Ewan West
Rafael Nadal Brisbane 2024
Rafael Nadal waves in Brisbane

Former doubles world No 1 Paul McNamee believes Rafael Nadal’s retirement from tennis will become imminent if he does not win the 2024 French Open title. 

The five-time major champion across men’s and mixed doubles believes Nadal will keep playing while he still has a chance to equal Novak Djokovic’s Grand Slam record.

Nadal withdrew on the opening day of the ongoing 2024 Indian Wells Open ahead of his scheduled first round match against Milos Raonic last week.

In a statement announcing his withdrawal, the former world No 1 said: “It is with great sadness that I have to withdraw from this amazing tournament.

“Everyone knows how much I love this place and how much I love to play here at Indian Wells. That’s also one of the reasons why I came very early to the desert to practice and try to get ready.

“I have been working hard and practicing and you all know I took a test this weekend but I don’t find myself ready to play at the highest level at such an important event.

“It is not an easy decision, it’s a tough one as a matter of fact but I can’t lie to myself and lie to the thousands of fans. I will miss you all and I am sure the tournament will be a great success.”

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The 37-year-old Spaniard has won 22 Grand Slam titles, with his great rival Djokovic having secured a men’s record of 24. Nadal won his most recent major at the 2022 French Open, where he is a 14-time champion.

In a post on X, McNamee argued that the prospect of matching Djokovic’s major title record is driving Nadal to continue, but feels this could change if he misses out at Roland Garros.

“Let’s call it as it is. Rafa continues while he believes he can still win more Roland Garros’s, & why not? If he does, he’ll keep playing,” the Australian wrote.

“For me he won’t quit while he has a chance to equal Djokovic on 24. If he doesn’t win RG24, the end of a magnificent career becomes imminent.”

The former world No 24 singles player added in another tweet: “In any event I think Wimbledon and the Olympics are in play, as within only two months of RG (Roland Garros).”

Nadal has not played a competitive match since sustaining a hip injury in his quarter-final loss to Jordan Thompson in Brisbane in January. He faced Carlos Alcaraz in the Netflix Slam exhibition in Las Vegas on March 3.

The Mallorcan made his comeback in Brisbane after almost a year out of action, having suffered a hip psoas muscle injury at the 2023 Australian Open that he underwent surgery for in June.

His latest setback also forced him to pull out of the 2024 Australian Open in January, as well as the Qatar Open in Doha last month — where he had hoped to return.

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