Fans speculate about Rafael Nadal’s retirement before French Open announcement
Rafael Nadal is set to confirm if he will defend his French Open title later on Thursday but his fans were crossing fingers the Spanish great was not about to announce his impending retirement as well.
The 36-year-old Nadal has not competed since January after sustaining a hip injury at the Australian Open and is expected to confirm whether he will skip the French Open, a tournament he has won a record 14 times.
Nadal, who has dominated the claycourt season for years, has competed at Roland Garros every year since claiming the first of his men’s record 22 major titles in Paris in 2005. He overcame a niggling foot injury to beat Casper Ruud in last year’s final.
But he has struggled with his latest issue and missed events at Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid and this week’s Italian Open.
He left fans feeling less than optimistic about his fitness after a recent video on YouTube appeared to show the struggling Spaniard abandon a practice session early.
On the YouTube page that will stream Nadal’s news conference later on Thursday, fans posted tearful emojis and speculated about him announcing his retirement.
“Don’t do it,” read one comment, while another stated: “Tennis won’t be the same without Rafa.”
Nadal’s 14 French Open titles are the most by any player at a single major. He boasts a stunning 112-3 record in Paris and is widely regarded as the ‘king of clay’.
The French Open begins on May 28.
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