Rafael Nadal has been thrilling fans in South America on his tour with Casper Ruud, yet he has dropped more hints this his retirement from the game may be imminent.
Nadal has made several suggestions that 2023 may be his final full year on the ATP Tour, as he has admitted his recurring foot problem will bring an end to his career sooner rather than later.
Now he is has stated that he does not expect to play any more professional tennis events in Mexico, as he looks to play selected events in the coming months.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion has already confirmed he will not defend the Mexico Open title in 2023.
And his latest comments will fuel rumors that he could be considering following his great friend and rival Roger Federer into retirement.
“For me, the main thing right now is to be able to get to the important tournaments in full physical condition,” he said.
“I continue to enjoy day-by-day and I continue to have goals that excite me at a professional level.
“I’m going to try to achieve them until my body or mind says enough. At the moment, that hasn’t happened so I want to continue.
“I am happy doing what I do, I love competing on the big stages and the love of the people encouraged me to continue.
“My time will come when it has to come. I’m quite prepared for my next life outside tennis.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a problem for me beyond what will be an adaptation to the changes. My life has things equally or more important than tennis.”
Nadal confirmed he was close to retirement this time last year, as he was on crutches and struggling to recover from a flare-up of his foot problem.
Yet he produced a remarkable comeback to win the Australian Open and French Open, as he started 2022 as the dominant player on the ATP Tour.
Now it seems the optimism Nadal inspired at the start of this year is being replaced by pessimistic vibes, as he looks to the next stage of his career with trepidation.
“I am not thinking about my retirement,” the 36-year-old said in an interview last month.
“When it will be, it will be. Despite my body did not work lately, my mind says I still want to keep going.”
While Nadal’s mind may be willing, his body appears to be less eager to push through the pain barrier and play at the highest level.
Nadal’s tears as Federer retired after the Laver Cup in September gave him a glimpse of what may be on the agenda for him soon, with the Spaniard certain to have given some thought to how his own remarkable career will end.
In the opinion of his uncle Toni, his long-time coach and trusted ally, the end may be nigh for Nadal as he runs out of options on his fitness issues.
“I think that as long as he feels he has a chance of winning, he will continue,” Toni Nadal told Dario AS.
“If he goes to a tournament and has no chance of winning, I don’t think he will play. In the end, he has won too much to fold badly.
“How much time does Rafa have left? I don’t know, it will clearly depend on his rivals, on his body.”
Tennis fans were drained of emotion after Federer’s emotional farewell in London earlier this year and now it seems we may be witnessing something similar as Nadal pulls down the curtain on his career in the near future.
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Nadal has stated that he does not expect to play any more professional tennis events in Mexico, as he looks to trim down his schedule.