Tennis legend Mats Wilander has echoed a number of critics in expressing their concern over whether Rafael Nadal can return from his troubling foot injury.
Nadal stunned fans when he announced his withdrawal from the US Open after admitting he hadn't recovered from his left foot injury that ruled him out of both Wimbledon and the Olympics.
'HOW IN THE HELL': Ash Barty at centre of ugly tennis 'disgrace'
'EPITOME OF CLASS': Fans swoon over Ash Barty's special post-match act
The Spanish superstar had already sparked rumours he would not be attending the upcoming US Open when he entered a golf tournament scheduled just a few days before the Grand Slam.
Late last Friday evening he proved there was a hint of truth to them, when he announced he would not be making any more appearances on court this year.
Nadal recently revealed he suffers from 'Muller-Weiss syndrome, which is a rare condition caused by an improperly developed bone.
Coach Carlos Moya said Nadal has "been in pain for months", and often couldn't finish practice sessions because the injury flared up so badly.
The condition started for Nadal in 2005 and he has been managing it most of his career, but his coach says it became worse after Nadal's break in 2020.
Now, tennis icon Wilander has joined many in the tennis world fearing the worst for the 20-time Grand Slam champion.
“We are getting used to expecting him to not be able to play,” Wilander said on Eurosport.
"He is always trying and is always ready. He is getting older and his body is taking a beating.”
However, the seven-time Grand Slam champ said the chances of Nadal adding to his 20 Grand Slams appears to be over.
“I am very sad and very worried but I do think he [will] keep coming back until he no longer can,” Wilander said.
“At the moment the will to play is still there."
Legends weigh-in on Rafa Nadal injury
Tennis analyst Alex Corretja also shared the same concern that the injury was certainly more serious than everyone initially believed when he withdrew from Wimbledon.
"What is concerning me a little bit is that he pulled out of Wimbledon, the Olympics and now the US Open.
"That means that maybe the injury is more serious than we expected, and I'm a little bit concerned for the future as well."
Seven-time Grand Slam champ Justine Henin said she wasn't surprised by his withdrawal after his tough loss at Roland Garros.
"It is not a big surprise, we knew it could happen. The way he (Rafael Nadal) left Roland Garros, we could see it was difficult, physically, and it looks like it remains hard physically," she told the publication.
She reiterated that in the back of Nadal's mind, he would be aware the only way to push Novak Djokovic and the emerging generation of stars would be to enter the Grand Slam in top shape.
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.