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Rome 2024 - Rafael Nadal Feeling Better and Hints at Possible Retirement Prolongment

Tennis player Rafael Nadal clinching his fist on a clay court.
Photo: Eurosport

Encouraging words from Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal is in Rome and is scheduled to play his first round match against Zizou Bergs Thursday at 1PM CET. He spoke with journalists this morning about his progress and his incoming retirement, giving us some encouraging statements:

I'm feeling better every passing day, physically and tennis speaking. Now, all my matches are difficult [...] But the outlooks are good if I continue working hard and if my body let me.

As time goes on and Rafa plays matches and trains, the likelihood of seeing him play at Roland-Garros increases. Just last week, he was uncertain about participating, questioning his ability to perform there.

Of course, there are ups and downs, but I'm happy with my current level. A month ago, it was almost impossible for me to imagine playing in Barcelona.

Postponed Retirement for Rafael Nadal?

The more we see him progress and perform, the more we can hope that he postpones his retirement, which according to all likelihood should happen at the end of the year at the Laver Cup. With some quality wins last week in Madrid, notably against Alex de Minaur, Nadal is gradually approaching his former level, although it would be crazy to think he could fully regain it.

Here's what he had to say when asked (again) about his retirement prospects:

I want to enjoy every day. I enjoy playing tennis, always depending on my body to see how long I can. I'm happy with what I'm doing now. When I talk about retirement, it's not because I'm not happy playing tennis or because I don't feel competitive. It's not the case.
It's about the fact that my body hasn't been able to play for weeks in a row, to train and enjoy those workouts. Then there comes a time when it doesn't make sense. If you can't do things properly every day, and can't endure the pain and injuries, then it's practically impossible to succeed or keep fighting for the things that motivate you.
Now it's my third week on the Tour, so it's a good thing, although the results are not what they were. I'm improving my feelings, my level. We'll see, I want to continue.

Rafael Nadal is currently focusing on the Rome tournament, but he doesn't rule out continuing to play as long as his body allows it. While it is nothing new, he said from the very beginning that he would play for as long as his body would permit, his language is a lot more positive than it was a few weeks ago, giving us some hope that he might continue playing past 2023. His performances and recovery in the coming weeks with Roland-Garros and the Paris Olympics will certainly tell us more about his intentions.

Qualifier Zizou Bergs in the first round

Once again in Rome, Rafa will have the opportunity to avoid a seeded player in the first round, as he will face qualifier Zizou Bergs on Thursday. Interestingly, Bergs was named in honor of the nickname of the legendary French football player Zinédine Zidane, the same Zizou who had the honor of personally handing Nadal his first trophy at Roland-Garros in 2005! Yes, Nadal has been on the circuit for that long.

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If you're interested in learning more about Rafael Nadal's career, we recommend you read his autobiography and New York Times best-seller : RAFA. You can buy this book and support Tennis Clubhouse at the same time by using this link.


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