Rafael Nadal’s retirement date has always been a hot topic, but things have escalated this week and John McEnroe is the latest to give his thoughts on the subject.
22-time Grand Slam winner Nadal turns 37 in June and he is the first to admit that he does not know how many years he has left at the top of tennis, but that has not stopped fellow players, former players, pundits and fans from speculating over his future.
World No 13 Alexander Zverev added more fuel to the flames this week when he suggested that the Spaniard will quit after this year’s French Open.
“Unfortunately, I think Rafa will retire at Roland Garros. I don’t want it to happen, but I think he will have a great tournament, potentially win it and say goodbye,” the German said.
Nadal, though, then poured cold water over the flames as he insisted that even he doesn’t have a timeframe for his retirement.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen in six months,” the reigning world No 2 said.
“I have a very good relationship with Zverev, but not enough to confess something like that to him. The reality is that I’m here to play tennis, try to have a great 2023, fight for everything that I have struggled throughout my career and I don’t think about my retirement.”
Seven-time Grand Slam winner and former world No 1 McEnroe, though, refused to let the topic die as he gave his opinion on the matter as he believes the Spaniard will continue playing as long as he can win big tournaments.
“You know what? It would be tough to write Rafa off at any point, given that he did so well last year. I didn’t expect him to do that last year. So I continue to be amazed by him,” he told Eurosport.
“It’s amazing how much hunger he has still. With all the success that he’s had. The other players should look at him. I used to look at, well, he’s like Jimmy Connors. And I was like, ‘this guy tries harder than anyone I’ve ever seen. I’ve got to try harder’.
“And if I were playing today, I’d have a look every day at Rafeal Nadal and go, ‘You know, I’ve got to try as hard as this guy. Because I don’t know almost anyone that does’.
“Obviously, at 36, your body can only take so much; at some point it is going to give out. Will it be this year? I don’t know. Next year?
“How much longer can he do this at this level? And he doesn’t want to be, you know, 10 in the world or 20.
“As soon as he, I think, feels like he can’t win majors. He’s going to stop.”
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