When Rafael Nadal turned pro in 2003 at just 17 years old, he suffered an elbow injury a few months before making his debut at the French Open. Two years later, he won his first Grand Slam in the same tournament. But since 2003, Nadal has had 13 major injuries. Yet, the tennis legend is always determined to come back to the court.
2024 would be the 37-year-old star’s farewell year, as he looks set to hang his racket. Despite nearing the dawn of his career, Spanish legend Conchita Martinez is warning that Rafael Nadal has proved to many over the course of his career that he can never be ruled out of winning a title come 2024.
Conchita Martinez issues warning about Rafael Nadal’s 2024 comeback
Rafael Nadal has not competed since suffering a hip injury in his second round loss to Mackenzie McDonald at the Australian Open in January. In an interview with Clay, Conchita Martinez discussed Nadal’s prospects for his proposed comeback in what could be his final season on tour.
“Well, he said it was going to be a farewell year in the tournaments he wants, and that’s the way it has to be. Whenever Rafa has had injuries he has always got up and come back stronger, he has won important tournaments,” Conchita said.
“He is in the best hands, especially with doctor [Ruiz] Cotorro. I have no doubt that he is doing the right things; they are not going to take any risks. If he is fit, he will have a very competitive year. If he doesn’t feel that way, we’ll see, then he will focus on the tournaments that really matter to him, which will be Roland Garros and some previous ones. Hopefully he will come back stronger. We should never rule him out, he always surprises us.”
Martinez also addressed the possibility of her Spanish compatriot retiring if he wins a record-extending 15th French Open crown in 2024. “It can be. I was sure he wouldn’t [keep playing] in 2022. Then he won and kept playing. The following year I see it more feasible than other years,” added Conchita.
“He is a player who loves to play for his country. He has always been committed, he is a champion several times with Spain in the Davis Cup, he won an Olympic gold and has played in many games. Maybe Paris 2024 is in his plans.” He concluded
Rafael Nadal won his most recent major crown at the 2022 French Open, defeating Casper Ruud in the final. Nadal also triumphed at the 2022 Australian Open, coming back from two sets down to edge Daniil Medvedev in an epic final, but has largely been hampered by various injury issues since.
What is Rafael Nadal’s latest health update ahead of 2024 comeback
Rafael Nadal, one of the biggest adversaries of Roger Federer, announced in May that he expects 2024 to be his farewell tour where he wants to “try to enjoy and say goodbye to all the tournaments that have been important to me.” Feliciano Lopez, the former world No 12, spoke to Nadal in Mallorca at the end of June and revealed his health was in good order following his surgery.
“He was looking great. It was only a few weeks after the surgery and he was looking great, working perfectly, feeling healthy and everything is going great so far,” Lopez said to the media.
“You can never underestimate Rafa because if he’s physically OK, he’s still going to be able to challenge the best players in the world. It’s impossible to make a prediction because he’s the one who is able to surprise everyone, even in difficult situations. I hope he recovers 100% and then decide if he goes just for the clay, which is probably more reasonable now, or if he goes for the full calendar,” Lopez added.
Rafael Nadal eyes Paris Olympic next summer which will be played on the clay of Roland Garros, where he has had 14 victories. Do you think he can win Gold? Tell us your predictions in the comments.