Nadal plotting Federer-like farewell after French Open blow, believes Haas

By Sports Desk May 25, 2023

Rafael Nadal will be contemplating the best way to call time on his stellar career after injury denied him the chance to defend his French Open title, believes Tommy Haas.

Nadal has not played since suffering a second-round exit at the Australian Open in January, having struggled with a hip injury during his straight-sets defeat to Mackenzie McDonald.

The 22-time grand slam champion last week admitted defeat in his bid to appear at Roland Garros, where he has triumphed 14 times – a record for any player at a single grand slam.

When announcing his withdrawal, Nadal said 2024 would "probably" be his final year on the ATP tour and outlined his intention of making farewell appearances at "important tournaments".

Nadal's long-time rival Roger Federer retired surrounded by several of his fellow greats at last year's Laver Cup, and Haas believes the Spaniard will be eyeing a similar send-off. 

"At some point, time catches up with all of us and that's the reality," Haas, a four-time grand slam semi-finalist, told Stats Perform.

"I think at this stage, I'm sure he's been contemplating the idea: 'When would I do it? How would I do it? How would it come together organically?' 

"We saw Roger Federer doing it last year and the way he was able to retire in London at the Laver Cup with all of his rivals and friends on the court. I happened to be there live, it was an amazing way to finish such an incredible career. 

"Look at Pete Sampras. He won his first slam at the US Open and he won his last match at the US Open, winning the slam there on home turf – there couldn't have been a better fairy tale. 

"I think you look at that and at the same time, you have to stay focused on what's happening today and you can't look too far ahead."

 

Though Nadal's total of 22 grand slam singles titles is a joint record in the men's game (alongside Novak Djokovic), the Spaniard's injury record has denied him several chances to add to that tally.

Nadal played all four grand slams for the first time since 2019 last year but was forced to withdraw from the Wimbledon semi-finals, and Haas says the Spaniard's fitness will dictate his future.   

"It always depends, obviously, on the injuries. 'How bad is it and can I recover from it?' I'm sure Rafa is constantly thinking about those situations," Haas added.

"He's been saying he still wants to play for another year or two, which would obviously be amazing for the sport. 

"On clay, I think he has a better chance of keeping the body in a better shape than on gruelling hardcourts. He obviously plays long matches, which is tough on the body."

The main draw of the French Open begins on Sunday, with Nadal's compatriot Carlos Alcaraz the top male seed as he bids for a second major title.

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