In an interview with AS, the retired tennis player from Spain suggested that her compatriot and 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal was in the last phase of his tennis career. Carla Suarez Navarro cited Nadal’s injury troubles and physical decline as the reasons for her opinion but admitted that the legendary Spaniard’s mental toughness meant that he could never be counted out.
“Obviously, Rafa continues, but we are in his last years. Time passes for everyone and he has been subjected to a lot of demand. Physically, he is no longer what he was, although mentally he will always surprise us,” she remarked.
Rafael Nadal has had a year of highs and lows. The Spaniard was on the sidelines tending to a foot injury and had to skip the second half of the 2021 season. Upon his return in 2022, however, the former World No. 1 had one of his best starts to a season, winning 20 matches and three titles on the trot (Melbourne Summer Set, Australian Open and Mexican Open) before losing in the final to Taylor Fritz in Indian Wells.
The 36-year-old then won a historic 14th French Open title and a record-extending 22nd Grand Slam trophy.
In his pursuit for the third Grand Slam of the year at Wimbledon, however, Nadal was forced to pull out of his semifinal encounter, citing an abdominal tear. Thereafter, at the US Open, he has struggled with his form and was dismissed by Frances Tiafoe in the fourth round, handing him his first Slam defeat of 2022.
“He is training well and following the schedule for the end of the season” - Rafael Nadal's doctor on the Spaniard’s return
Rafael Nadal, who recently became a father to a son with wife Mary Perello, was last seen in action alongside arch-rival and friend Roger Federer in his last pro tournament at the Laver Cup.
Nadal’s doctor, Dr. Angel Ruiz-Cotorro, recently shed light on the athlete’s health. He revealed that the new father was doing fine and was back in training to fulfill his commitments for the remainder of 2022.
"Rafa is fine, very happy with his fatherhood," Cotorro noted. "Once that situation is fulfilled, which logically takes you out of the day to day, he is training well and following the schedule for the end of the season.”
Dr. Angel Ruiz-Cotorro further disclosed the “secret” to the tennis legend’s monumental success.
"I think the secret is hard work, passion for the sport, trying to improve every day, and having outstanding physical tennis qualities. He is a historic player for our sport and there he continues to give us joy," he said.
Although Rafael Nadal’s competitive schedule is currently unknown, the 36-year-old has announced that he will be participating in an exhibition tour in Mexico and South America, starting November 23. The World No. 2 will be joined by World No. 3 Casper Ruud.