Rafael Nadal’s legendary former tennis coach and Uncle Toni provided an update on the Spaniard’s future in tennis.
At 36 years old, Nadal is still one of the sport’s best players and a huge threat at every tournament he enters. However, since last year’s Wimbledon the great Spaniard has suffered multiple injuries and a loss of form have seen him win just two of his last 11 matches.
The world number six is currently nursing a hip injury sustained at the Australian Open and while speculation around his future lingers, Uncle Toni set the record straight by providing an insight into his nephew's mindset. "He knows that his career, whatever he does from here on out, has been a great one,” the 61-year-old told EFE.
"For now it's just about making the effort to continue, as he has been doing for a long time now. The word 'retirement' is not on Rafa's mind."
Novak Djokovic seized the opportunity at last month's Australian Open to clinch his record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam, losing just one set throughout the fortnight.
This sets up a mouthwatering battle with the great Spaniard at the French Open, with both the Serbian and Nadal competing for an unprecedented 23rd crown. Nadal aims to recover from his injury in time for the clay-court season, which begins with the Monte Carlo Masters April. The 11-time winner of the event missed the opening tournament on the dirt last year due to a rib injury sustained at Indian Wells.
He was also forced to skip the Barcelona Open and a foot injury scuppered his campaign at the Rome Masters. But in the opinion of Uncle Toni, if Nadal can return to full fitness and enjoy a full clay-court season by the time Roland Garros rolls around, he has every chance of winning a 15th crown in the French capital; setting a new Grand Slam record.
"He is still in good form and, if he is in the right condition, he'll continue,” the elder Nadal added. "For now, he needs to rest and recover for three or four more weeks. It'll be difficult because Djokovic is fresher than him. He'll have a chance at Roland-Garros, so we'll see.
"Ultimately, it'll be a complicated fight against a great champion like Djokovic. He knows that his career, whatever he does from here on out, has been a great one.” As many continue to speculate when Nadal will hang up his racket, former tennis player Alex Corretja spoke in an interview for El Larguero explaining the situation surrounding the Spanish legend and highlighting how important the 2023 season is for him.
"Rafa's real goal is to prepare as well as possible for clay tournaments, I don't think he will risk playing the Masters 1000 on American hard courts," the two-time French Open runner-up said.
"The last few months have been difficult for him, but we must all not forget what he did last year. The victory in Melbourne 2022 was a miracle, without forgetting the triumph in Paris despite constant physical problems. This year is key to the continuation of his career."
He added: "If Rafa realises that he has too many physical problems and that he is therefore unable to compete for a Grand Slam, then he will seriously consider his future. Nadal always pushes his body to the limit and in order for him to fight to win he has to be at 100%. I understand his frustration, the problems he has had have affected the hip, an area I would say quite delicate."