July 16, 2024
Rafael Nadal

Jimmy Connors says there is no doubt that the game is better with Rafael Nadal as the American tennis icon highlights that even at this stage of his career and these circumstances the Spaniard is able to generate so much buzz and interest and have people talk about tennis.

Nadal, widely regarded as one of the best ambassadors tennis has ever had, is currently in the midst of a farewell season as the Spaniard’s retirement will very likely come at some point in 2024. Since sharing his plans to retire in 2024, people have constantly been talking about Nadal’s retirement and speculated if there was a chance of seeing him play beyond this year.

Although Nadal is set to kick off just his fourth tournament of the year this week in Rome, the 22-time Grand Slam champion has been in the center of attention throughout the opening five months of the season.

Addressing Nadal’s retirement plans and what it means for tennis, former eight-time Grand Slam champion Connors underlined Nadal has brought many people to tennis and that the day he officially leaves pro tennis, it will be a loss for the game.

“Listen, the game’s better with him in it. So much better. He creates so many talking points. Whether it’s talking [about] that he’s too old, he’s not what it used to be, this is like the old mayor,” Connors said on the Advantage Connors podcast.

“The way he always approached his matches and went out there, he was all business. And the attitude that he had and the grit and the grind, never let a ball. Run down everything. You know, [he would] kill himself. And leave his DNA out there. And he’s loved plenty of that all around the world, so…

“Ultimately, it’s his decision (to retire). And eventually, we all get it. Everybody gets it, and then you have so many other things to do the rest of your life that you just fold into that.”
Rafael Nadal

Nadal very honestly shared why it is almost impossble for him to continue playing

Last week, Nadal concluded what was believed to be his last Madrid Masters participation. But before his campaign at Caja Magica ended in the round-of-16, Nadal issued a telling statement that answered why playing beyond 2025 is probably impossible.

During Nadal’s 6-1 6-0 Madrid first-round win over Darwin Blanch, the Madrid crowd also had a chance to see the Spaniard’s sitting in the box. After the match, 37-year-old Nadal said he would like to keep playing so his son – who was born in 2022 October – could remember him playing. But then, Nadal acknowledged that his body very likely won’t make that happen.

“I would love to play a little bit longer and give him (my son) a memory of myself playing tennis. That’s what will be the ideal thing for me and for my wife and family. But I can’t, probably I will not be able to make that happen,” Nadal confessed after starting his Madrid Open campaign with a win.

“But at least, I mean, happy to have a great team and family and friends around me almost all my life. It helped me in every single way of being happy.”

After saying goodbye to Madrid, Nadal set to do the same in Rome
While Nadal didn’t win Madrid, winning three matches before losing to Jiri Lehecka in the round-of-16 was still a solid result. After the loss to Lehecka, Nadal stayed on the court for a mini-ceremony as he addressed the crowd and said goodbye in emotional scenes.

Now, Nadal is set to play in Rome, where he famously won titles in each of his first three appearances between 2005 and 2007. Since then, Nadal has won seven more titles at Foro Italico and now he is a record 10-time Rome champion.

“That’s another very special tournament in my career. I dreamed to play all these tournaments that I had success one more time. I missed Monte Carlo unfortunately, that is one of the most special for me, but Rome is one of these ones that I enjoyed a lot playing there,” Nadal noted.

On Monday, Nadal learned that he will be taking on a qualifier in the Rome first round. If Nadal makes it past a qualifier, he will then be having a tough test in the second round since his opponent will be world No. 9 Hubert Hurkacz.

“I want to play well there (in Rome). I want to be competitive. I want to give myself a chance to play good tennis, and I’m gonna keep working hard to try to make that happen,” Nadal said in Madrid when addressing his hopes for Rome.

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