It’s the final round, the final set for Rafael Nadal. Earlier today, the Spanish great pulled out of the event that made him who he is. The French Open will go on without him in 10 days or so, but Nadal is not ready to let go. Not yet.
During his press conference, Nadal made it clear he doesn’t want to stop. Not now. But his body is making decisions. That’s what happens when you get on the wrong side of 35 and close in on 40. Ask Roger Federer. Ask Serena Williams and the list goes on and on and on. They all succumb. Father Time always wins.
But through these 19 years of watching Nadal, what have we learned? He doesn’t give up. He keeps fighting. There’s no quit.
“I believe I don’t deserve to finish,” Nadal said of retiring now. “I think I have fought enough during all my sporting career so that my end is not today, here in a press conference. My ending will be in another way and I will fight so that my end will be in another way.”
Nadal is a few weeks from turning 37. He’s not playing Wimbledon and more than likely not playing the US Open. By now, you know he hopes to get back for the Davis Cup and then play in 2024 which could be the final swing.
Nadal is a proud warrior. One like we’ve never seen before in tennis. We all gasped in awe at the physicality he played with early on in his career and many — myself included — never thought he’d make 10 years on the tour with that style. His knees were already waving the white flag well before he turned 30. Then the wrist, the foot and most recently the ab last summer and now a hip issue we know little about in terms of severity.
At his age and with the miles on his treads, it’s hard to see a pathway to more big titles when he does come back. I think he will. I just don’t think it’s going to be that fairytale ending. Roger and Serena didn’t get that, either.
That said, perhaps a year off will let him fully heal and he can make one more run. And at very least at the French Open which would be an incredible scene if he returns.
He always talks about fighting and trying his best. He’s been an honest and true champion throughout. One can fault Federer for this, Serena for that and even Novak Djokovic gets himself into trouble. That’s not the case with Rafa. He accepts defeat as he does victory. He takes on each opponent in each round in every match and in every tournament with the same exacting intensity and passion.
But now he’s up against his greatest challenge: Himself. Vamos!
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Alison hodge Says:
As he always does, which is why I’ve always loved him, such a fighter with a lot of heart, best wishes Rafa🙏❤️
May 20th, 2023 at 6:00 am