Rafael Nadal To Skip French Open For First Time, May Retire Next Year | Tennis News
File image of Rafael Nadal© AFP
Rafael Nadal on Thursday withdrew from the French Open because his hip injury has not healed and said he expects 2024 to be his final year in professional tennis. “It’s not a decision I’m taking, it’s a decision my body is taking,” said the 36-year-old Spanish superstar, who has played at the claycourt major every year since 2005 and won it 14 times. Nadal said he was taking a few months off before starting to play again. “It’s probably going to be my last year on the professional tour, I can’t say this 100 percent because you never know what’s going to happen,” he told a news conference.
Since his swashbuckling title-winning debut in the French capital in 2005, he racked up 14 titles, winning 112 matches and losing just three.
Two of those came against Novak Djokovic — in the last-eight in 2015 and semi-finals in 2021.
Sweden’s Robin Soderling had been the first to pierce the Nadal armour in 2009. Nadal avenged that last-16 loss 12 months later in the final.
The only other time Nadal was thwarted in Paris was 2016 when a wrist injury forced a withdrawal after the second round.
His combined successes at Roland Garros swelled his bank balance by more than $26 million.
In 2005, when he won the French Open at his first attempt, he was just two days past his 19th birthday.
When he captured his record-extending 14th in 2022, he was the championship’s oldest champion at 36.
Nadal made his Grand Slam debut at Wimbledon as a raw 17-year-old in 2003, but it was his maiden appearance in Paris that had fans drooling.
His 6-7 (6/8), 6-3, 6-1, 7-5 win in the final against unheralded Mariano Puerta of Argentina made him the first man since Mats Wilander 23 years earlier to triumph at the first attempt.
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