Rafael Nadal sparks retirement speculation after telling comment

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·Sports Reporter
·5-min read
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Rafael Nadal sparked some retirement speculation after his French Open win over Novak Djokovic.
Rafael Nadal has played coy when asked about his retirement, but admitted his injured foot continues to bother him at times. (Photo by Antonio Borga/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

Still savouring his pulsating quarter-final victory over Novak Djokovic at the French Open, 21-time grand slam winner Rafael Nadal could be forgiven for not wanting to think about retirement.

The Spaniard had just overcome a 5-2 defecit in the fourth set to earn a thrilling 6-2 4-6 6-2 7-6 (7-4)The world No.3 won their pulsating quarter-final 6-4 6-4 4-6 7-6 (9-7) in three hours 18 minutes. under lights at Roland Garros, teeing up a semi-final showdown against Alexander Zverev.

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The French Open specialist was in superb form as he worked his way back into the fourth set and ultimately to victory, but Nadal remained coy about his future plans when asked after the match.

Despite having a record 21 grand slam wins under his belt and a chance to add a 22nd in Paris this week, retirement questions are still frequently posed to the 35-year-old.

Nadal played coy when he was asked on court after the match whether or not he would be back at Roland Garros next year.

"See you in two days (for the semi-final), that’s all I can say," Nadal said with a cheeky smile.

Earlier in the on-court interview Nadal had spoken about how special the French Open was to him, given his tremendous success at the tournament in years past.

“To win against Novak there’s only one way — to play at your best since the first point until the last,” Nadal said.

“And tonight it was one of this magic nights for me. Unexpected level.

“Without a doubt there’s no other place like this one for me. It’s the most important court of my career, the most special one.

"And as I said, for me to feel the love of everyone here in Paris means everything to me.”

Fans have been speculating for months as to when Nadal could potential bring his career to an end, however the Spaniard's impressive comeback from a foot injury in 2021 has made that date anyone's guess.

Though Nadal has won the Australian Open this year and shown impressive form otherwise, he admitted in his post-game press conference that his foot was still troubling him.

"If we are not able to find an improvement or a small solution then it becomes super difficult for me," he said.

"Of course I'm going to keep fighting to find a solution but for the moment we haven't."

Nadal beats Djokovic in entertaining French Open showdown

The match between Nadal and Djokovic began a little past 9pm Paris time on Tuesday night and concluded 12 minutes after 1am Wednesday.

Nadal ended the top-seeded Djokovic's bid for a second consecutive title at the French Open and made sure the Serb remains behind him in the grand slam count with 20.

Having already survived a five-set thriller against Canadian Felix Auger Aliassime in the previous round, Nadal, backed by a partisan crowd, found the resources to end it in four sets despite being a break down in the fourth.

The Spaniard, who turns 36 on Friday, improved to 110-3 all-time at Roland Garros. Two of those losses came against Djokovic, including in last year's semi-finals.

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal played a French Open classic in their quarter-final on Wednesday. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal played a French Open classic in their quarter-final on Wednesday. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

This showdown was the 59th of their careers, more than any other two men have played each other in the Open era. Nadal narrowed Djokovic's lead to 30-29.

In years gone past when Djokovic and Nadal were perennially in the top 3 of the rankings, they would never meet earlier than the semis or final at grand slams.

But Nadal has slipped down to World No.5 after a string of recent injuries, resulting in the unwanted quarter-final clash.

Earlier, World No.3 Alexander Zverev beat a fellow top-10 player in a grand slam for the first time in a dozen attempts, overcoming Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz.

The German star won their pulsating quarter-final 6-4 6-4 4-6 7-6 (9-7) in three hours 18 minutes.

With AAP

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