Nadal’s retirement postponed?

by Jonas Eriksson
Rafa nadal

When you saw Rafa Nadal lose to Alex De Minaur a week ago, it looked like the end of the road. But is Nadal’s retirement postponed?

What a difference a week makes. You never want to call a Nadal performance lackluster, but in Barcelona (Tennis TV highlights) he did look out of sorts. De Minaur can be a nightmare opponent for someone coming back from injury because there are hardly any easy points.

But Rafa has always been a top strategist. And he figured out the way to beat De Minaur’s impressive speed was to give him high and slow balls mixed with an injection of pace. The frequent shot variety took “Demon” out of his comfort zone and made him rush some points with poor decision-making. But Nadal also played much better in Madrid than in Barcelona. He does not have a spring in his step, I think we are beyond that point in his career, but he can still play some classic Vamos Rafa points and hook forehands, left, right and center.

He was also lucky. This sounds like a weird statement to talk about in professional tennis, especially for one of the best players of all time. But Rafa did have his share of net cords fumbling down on the Aussie side of the net. The tennis gods simply wanted him to win, which I think we all did. We want to see a great end to Rafa’s career. Because this is the last year, right? Or is Nadal’s retirement postponed?

Does the road go beyond 2024?

One minute, Nadal talks about wanting to play Barcelona for the last time, the next minute, he says he wants to give his son memories of him playing on the biggest stages. So what is it?

At this point, it is match by match, tournament by tournament. At least, seemingly. If the body is showing good signs of recovery, Rafa will keep trying to win matches with a limited schedule. Does the road go beyond 2024? Nobody knows, I don’t think even Rafa himself has an idea at this point.

When he announced his return to the Laver Cup, it felt like a fitting end to his career. Why not finish it the way Roger did? Maybe we get a goosebumps-inducing surprise doubles match with Roger and Rafa where the audience faints from excitement? But with yesterday’s win and show recent statements about really wanting to fight for a medal in the Olympics (doubles with Alcaraz is on the table and can be a real blockbuster! Especially considering Alcaraz’ upcoming Netflix series), it seems possibly that he goes into a 2025 season.

When and where do you think Rafa’s illustrious career ends? Let me know in the comments.

A final note on Rafa’s racquet

If you want to know Rafael Nadal’s racquet and other pro-player racquets, there is plenty of information in our Tennisnerd Guide to Racquets and Strings.

Nadal is back to playing with his 2021 Pure Aero Rafa cosmetic instead of the Babolat Pure Aero Rafa Origin. Why? Superstition? Wanting to end with his last Grand Slam-winning racquets? That would be my guess.

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