Is 2024 the year of ATP retirements?

by Simon Zeitler
thiem to retire

Right before the Rome Masters we were hit with a number of retirement announcements, Dominic Thiem and Diego Schwartzman join an illustrate round of players, that will retire after the 2024 season. For me personally, many of these players have been either childhood idols or players that I loved to watch for many years.

Is this the end of an era?

Dominic Thiem (retirement confirmed)

The Austrian standout player announced that 2024 will be his last season, citing both his wrist condition and motivation problems as the main reasons for this decision. Before Dominic Thiem sustained the injury at the Mallorca Championship, he was an outstanding player, not only winning the 2020 US Open title, but also challenging the Big 3 for years. He can look back at an outstanding career, with one Slam, one Masters and a total of 17 titles, plus a career-high No. 3 ranking. Together with Thomas Muster he will be remembered as one of Austria’s best players of all time.

Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t come back from a serious wrist injury in Mallorca in 2021. After this, his forehand seemed to lack power and his mental strength never got back to the level of his Grand Slam victory. After a couple of years going back and forth between Challengers and qualifications, he will end his career most likely in Vienna, where one of the last tournaments of 2024 will take place.

Diego Schwartzman (retirement confirmed)

Alongside of Thiem, we have another announcement, coming from Argentinian clay court specialist Diego Schwartzman. The former World No.8, who is currently ranked outside of the top 100, is looking back to a horrendous 2023 season, where his level seemed to drop out of nowhere. Before this, he had his biggest success in 2020, when he reached to Roland Garros semifinal and won his home tournament in Buenos Aires a year later.

Diego Schwartzman to retire in 2024

In total, Schwartzman defied some odds by overachieving massively for a 1,70m tall player in today’s game, where a big serve is almost mandatory for success. He can look back to 4 career titles, a Masters final and the mentioned Slam semifinal, as well as multiple weeks within the top 10. He will retire after the 2025 South America clay swings, with one last showing in front of his home crowds.

Rafael Nadal (retirement very likely)

This is obviously the biggest one of the retirees – we all suspect that this is the last year of Rafael Nadal on tour, even though his statements sometimes differ from week to week. I do not have to tell you about the multiple success records of Nadal, who is the second-best player of all time statistically and in the heated debate for greatest of all time. Given that he was injured for most of the last 10 years, this makes all his titles even more amazing and gives another good reason for him to retire.

After various knee and foot issues, Nadal injured his hip in the process of winning the Slam titles 21 and 22 in 2022. After a one-year hiatus, he announced that 2024 will most likely be his last year on tour and celebrated the Madrid Masters farewell, only to question that Rome 2024 doesn’t necessarily have to be his last time there. After all, I think that Rafa is the ultimate competitor and will always want to play if possible, but his body will force him into retirement by the end of this year. The 2024 Laver Cup seems to be, once more after Federer, the farewell of one of the sport’s greatest.

Andy Murray & Stan Wawrinka (retirement likely)

There are only two men who could challenge the Big 3 consistently in their prime, and both seem to hang up their racket by the end of this season. But while Stan Wawrinka slowly faded out in the last couple of years, Sir Andy Murray put up nothing short of a medical miracle. After being diagnosed with a large injury in his hip, he underwent hip resurfacing and was told to never be able to play again at this level. But he went on to play for almost 6 more years and even won another tournament in 2019, after the first of two surgeries.

His last Grand Slam dates to 2016, but anyone who can look back to 41 weeks as World No.1, three Grand Slam titles and two Olympic gold medals, all within the strongest era of men’s tennis, must be considered one of the greatest to play. 

Another one putting up a solid case for himself in that illustrate circle is Stan Wawrinka, who would be considered the best player of any country for the last 20 years maybe, if he wouldn’t be compatriot to Roger Federer. The former World No.3 looks back to 16 titles, of which three Grand Slams and an Olympic doubles gold medal. He is considered the only player, who could hit through the Big 3 in their respective prime and especially Novak Djokovic will look back with horror to some of their meetings. The maybe best single-handed backhand on tour is more likely to retire than not, coming up on 40-years-old and his last title dating back to 2017.

Novak Djokovic (not very likely?)

And maybe there could be another surprise retirement? Novak Djokovic is the greatest player of all time statistically, the only title he is chasing as of now is the Olympic gold, where is last chance is Paris 2024. Given his latest performances and his desire for Slams and Masters only, he could very well join this club, if he either wins the Olympics or looks to be falling off the top level. I don’t think he will, but the chances might be somewhat 50/50 here.

What do you think? Will Novak retire, have I missed someone and who is the biggest loss to the tour in your eyes?

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1 comment

Thom May 22, 2024 - 00:19

I don’t think the wrist has anything to do with Thiem’s drop in performance. Since winning the US Open, his level fell off a cliff and he struggled for even the most minimal mediocrity even before hurting his wrist. At the time he cited needing to find something else now that he had fulfilled his lifelong goal and won a slam.

The wrist became the focal point after that but, since winning his slam, he played the same both before and after the injury.


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