Rafael Nadal makes startling French Open confession as he admits retirement is close

Rafael Nadal makes startling French Open confession as he admits retirement is close

Rafael Nadal has admitted he may not be fit to compete in best-of-five-set matches at the French Open in what was a downbeat press conference in Madrid.

The 14-time Roland Garros champion is preparing to play what is likely to be his farewell appearance at the Madrid Open, but he has conceded his ongoing fitness issues may stop him from finishing his career as he is hoping to do.

Nadal has already confirmed he intends to play at the Laver Cup in September and he is also due to play in the exhibition event featuring some of the game’s top players in Saudi Arabia in October.

Yet his latest gloomy assessment of his hopes of playing at the French Open suggests he may be losing faith in his ability to play in Paris next month.

“If I arrive in Paris like I feel today, I would not go on court. I will not play,” said Nadal.

“I will play Roland Garros if I feel competitive. If I can play, I play. If I can’t play, I can’t.”

He was asked whether he is enjoying his final few months on court, but he admitted the emotions are mixed as he is not able to compete as he would want.

“There are moments playing on court when I am enjoying it and feeling competitive,” he continued. “It is not the word ‘enjoy’ all the time. Then at other moments, I feel limitations and that is difficult.

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“I love to be here (in Madrid) and I am trying to have my best result possible, but I can’t say that now.

“Tomorrow I am going to be on court and a few weeks ago I didn’t know if I could play on the professional tour again.

“I’m able to enjoy the fact that I can play tournaments that are emotional for me and that I can say goodbye on court.

“The goal is to be on court and enjoy for as long as possible. Try to finish the tournament alive in terms of body issues and enjoy the fact that I will be able to compete one more time in the professional tour in Madrid.

“In sport, things can change very quickly. If I am not there to try, the change will not happen. I’m here giving myself a chance and if my situation improves, I need to be ready.

“I will not be ready if I am at home. I don’t lose hope, accept the situation I have today, but that does not mean that in a few weeks, it can’t be different.

“I’m going to keep trying to give myself the possibility and to see if that change happens.

“I have been through a lot of things in the last two years, so the body is not feeling good. I’m not feeling free enough due to body issues and that is not allowing me to compete the way I want to compete. That’s all I can say.”

It is clear that Nadal is losing faith in his ability to stand up to to the physical demands of playing on the ATP Tour and we have reached a moment that every match he plays could now be his last as a professional.

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