Rafael Nadal says his future is uncertain due to a persistent foot injury

Rafael Nadal speaks to the media after his quarterfinal match against Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros.

THE MODERATOR: How much did the crowd support help you tonight?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, a good night. Well, the crowd have been amazing since the beginning of the tournament. I don’t know. I think probably they know that I not gonna be here for a lot of more times (smiling).

Yeah, I mean, the feeling about playing in the most important place and the most special place personally in my tennis career, I feel the support of all the crowd is just something very difficult to describe, no? So just can’t thank enough everyone here in Paris for making me feel that way, no?

Have been one of these unforgettable nights. So thank you very much, everyone.

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. Did you honestly believe that you could play 8 hours and 30 minutes in 48 hours, 8 hours and more than 30 minutes in 48 hours’ time after all the injuries, the problems you had with the preparation, against two players like Aliassime and Djokovic?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I told you that in Rome that I gonna have my doctor here with me, that having the doctor here you can do things that helps, no? So it’s not the moment to talk about that. I said that we are gonna talk about that after the tournament when my tournament finish.

But, yeah, I am putting everything that I have to try to play this tournament with the best conditions possible, no? I don’t know what can happen after, honestly, but here I think I gonna be fine.

Q. I just wondered, obviously this is a match that’s finished at 1:15. You have won tonight, but do you think it’s maybe still too late to be playing tennis at this time?

RAFAEL NADAL: It is, without a doubt. I can’t complain because we have two days off now, but if you only have one day off, or like Zverev had in Madrid, and he had to play the final the next day, then is a big issue, no?

Of course I understand the other part of the business, without a doubt, that televisions pays a lot of money to have matches that late, then the tournament makes money and then the players make money, no?

We need to find a balance, the right balance to make the things the best way possible, no? Is true that start the match here 9:00 in the evening playing on clay, best-of-five can be very long. These kind of things can happen. But that’s it.

Q. That was an incredible match. It was the level of a final. It felt like a final for the public, and I suppose for you too. But it was not a final. How do you then mentally refocus? Because you still have two matches if you want to win the title. How do you do that after such an incredible match?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I have some experience on that, no? (Laughter.)

In the end it has been a very emotional night for me. I still playing for nights like today. But is just a quarterfinals match, no? So I didn’t win anything. So I just give myself a chance to be back on court in two days, play another semifinals here in Roland Garros means a lot to me.

If I am not playing good or if I am losing in that semifinals match, not gonna be because I’m not gonna be focused on that semifinals match, no? I have experience on that. I am not the kind of guy and player that emotionally goes high and low. I am very stable, I think, emotionally.

I know how the things works, no? Is the moment to enjoy today, because have been a beautiful night for me, without a doubt. Very emotional one. But tomorrow gonna start thinking about things that I need to do to be ready for that semifinals, no? The main goal is be focused on all the level that I have been playing today.

Q. I was just wondering, you said you were a bit emotional today. Could you tell me what went through your head when you hit that match point? Is there something extra special about beating Novak in a quarterfinals here?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, of course we have a lot of history together, no? A lot important moments playing against each other. That’s the true. In that case always is a special match, play against Novak, no?

I become emotional because, of course, the last three months and a half for me, the only thing that I can say is haven’t been easy. So that’s it. That’s it. Not gonna be talking about all the things I went through last couple of months anymore now because I have to keep going, but of course haven’t been a fun three months.

All the things that me especially, but the rest of the team help me to keep going, no, makes this match more special, without a doubt.

Q. You talk a lot in here and in your on-court interviews about how you are aware that this Roland Garros could be your last, any one match could be your last. Is that something you are conscious of when you are on the court? Is that an additional emotional burden for you?

RAFAEL NADAL: Yes, I can’t say another thing, no? I am very clear about that, no? I am, as I said, I am old enough to not hide things or come here and say a thing that I don’t believe.

No, I don’t know what can happen. I think, as I said before, I’m gonna be playing this tournament because we are doing the things to be ready to play this tournament, but I don’t know what’s gonna happen after here.

I mean, I have what I have there in the foot, so if we are not able to find an improvement or a small solution on that, then it’s becoming super difficult for me, no. So that’s it.

No, no, I am just enjoying every day that I have the chance to be here, and without thinking much about what can happen on the future, no. Of course I’m gonna keep fighting to find a solution for that, but for the moment, we haven’t (smiling).

So just give myself a chance to play another semifinals here in Roland Garros is a lot of energy for me.

Q. You and Novak have played some incredible matches over the years. What does this sort of series of matches, what does the rivalry mean to you?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, this is one more episode, no. That’s it. We played, as I said before, in the most important events, in the most important matches for a lot of years, and it’s always special to play against each other.

Tonight have been just a quarterfinals match, not the final. So that’s different, no.

But still a super classic match and in a big scenario. So yeah, between Novak, Roger, myself, we have an amazing story together facing each other in the most important matches for such a long time. So that makes the things more special and more emotional.

But as I said, from my perspective, of course there is always a conversation about the player who finish with more slams or who is the best of the history, but from my perspective doesn’t matter that much. We achieve our dreams. We make history in this sport because we did things that didn’t happen before.

So from my perspective, doesn’t matter much which player going to finish with more slams or the best of the history because from my perspective, the level of our three is very equal. Is not much difference so doesn’t matter.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

20 comments

  1. Any talk of Rafa retiring just brings me to sadness. I cannot imagine tennis without him. I cried when Agassi retired and I love Rafa so much more! However, the only thing we cannot stop is time. We ALL fight time. Rafa has given us 110% of his life and I have to put my selfish desire to see him play on aside. ONE DAY – hopefully in a few more years – he will step aside. I pray he plays without pain until that moment. In the mean time, go get that 14th FO trophy! I wonder if Rafa knows how much we love him (particularly on this site!)?! Vamos Rafa! Despite your absolute humility, you are the GOAT!!!

  2. Nadal should make some changes and retire in 2 years. The olympics in 2024 in Paris will be a perfect end for his career.

    In the main time he should play only one clay court tournament in the lead up to the french open. And also play one hardcourt tournament in lead up to the us open.

    He should put the focus more on his serve in order to get free points add serve specialist to your team perhaps feliciano lopez will be a good idea. Change also your courtposition stand closer to the baseline, play more serve and volley and lose some weight that will reduce the pressure on the foot

    • A fantastic match once again and a fantastic win for Rafa and for all Rafafans.
      We naturally dread the moment when Rafa decides to retire but we can’t reasonably expect him to continue to practice and play in pain; especially the kind of pain he has endured in the last twelve months.
      So, we must reluctantly prepare ourselves for the probability that this will be his last French Open and, possibly, his last Tournament! (I don’t think he will play Wimbledon in any event because he will need to rest his mind and body and, most importantly, his foot after RG.)
      It seems to me, from what he has said in the last two weeks, that, unless they can find an effective treatment for his foot (and this would appear to be a ‘long shot’ because they have been trying to find one for a very long time without success), he will have no choice other than to retire.
      We will all be very sad if that turns out to be the case but no-one could have given more to the sport or his fans than Rafa has since he turned Pro eighteen years ago (a true warrior and a fantastic role model and ambassador for tennis).
      Rafa must listen to his body if he is to enjoy an active pain free life after tennis and we all want that for him.
      Let’s hope Rafa can win RG one more time. Tomorrow’s match against Zverev will be tough if Zverev plays as well as he did against Alcaraz though; so we can’t take anything for granted. (Zverev was serving as well as I have ever seen him serve in that match.)
      If Rafa does win RG I think he will retire. It would be a very fitting way to draw such a fantastic career to a close. I would be so happy for him but so sad not to see him play again. He is unique.

  3. It will be perfect ending of you and Iga hold the trophies on this fortnight. As you did it in 2020

    • HAHA I think Iga needs to move over to the ATP:):) The WTA does not seem challenging enough for her.

      As Rafa starts to think and plan for retirement, it’s time we Rafans also start to contemplate a future of tennis without our champion…

      Yup, I can’t do that right now. Get it done tomorrow champ!!

      • Mac… I don’t think anyone on this site ( except for a very few) will be able to replace Rafa with another player. I only like tennis because of Rafa & Roger (only Roger because he’s attached to Rafa)! Without Rafa no reason to watch tennis! I think Rafa motivates Iga as well… she’s over the moon for him just like us! What do you think of Rafa taking too much time in between points? John McEnroe is also complaining… don’t know how he can be vocal about something so trivial when he was always disrupting tennis with his outburst of anger… he had terrible sportsmanship. I know Rafa does take longer than most but that’s his only fault & it’s only a few seconds!

  4. Good Luck Rafa for tomorrow semifinal in finally a day match
    Please don’t think about retirement.
    I know you know best for your body but we want some more miracles from you. Vamos Rafa

  5. Rafa , please do not talk of retirement as you are on the verge of a second Grand Slam in 2022 with 2 remaining . You can win them all ! Vamos till eternity Rafa !

  6. If he does win Roland Garros, he’ll be in with a chance of the Grand Slam. I doubt he’s even thinking about it, because grass isn’t his best surface and the US hard courts are so tough on the body, but I can’t see him retiring part-way through a season when there’s that slight possibility there. But we’ll see. I wouldn’t like to think of anyone, especially Rafa, being in pain.

    • I feel like Rafa will continue but be very selective to which tournaments he plays.With ND & Carlos knocked out Rafa should have a clear path to his 🏆 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 RG and 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 total GS! What a match…Rafa still Thrilling us after all these years. The whole stadium was rocking with the chanting of Rafa Rafa Rafa! What ever Rafa decides we have yet another eptic memory and Rafa will always be just one thought away. ❤️🙏 Rafa against Zverev !

  7. what a match for my fav ov rite tennis player of all time I am87 and can no longer lay but you keep me going

  8. I enjoyed your match very much. I saw that all of your uncles, close family and complete team were in attendance. It makes me wonder if your last match at Roland Garros this year will be your last professional match. The end of your playing career…But then there is the Laver Cup. I held tickets for Chicago but tossed them when you withdrew. Mari was wearing a mask at the football tournament, when I saw few others. Maybe she’s expecting and being careful? Now for the Zverev hurdle.

  9. Rafa , if you can slay Nole in the biggest match of his past year , you can beat anyone at any given time . Case closed ! I hope the foot doesn’t prevent you from continuing your tremendous tennis career as this talk iiscvery disconcerting to us fans and we do feel for you . Vamos let’s win this 🥁

  10. Wise, young Rafa…

    Seems wrong to say ‘old’.

    Our Rafa has so much wisdom, old fogeys like myself feel stomped and simply marvel at his words, the way he treats his ‘colleagues’ – the body language says it all.

    I must say Rafa has elementary kindness. Easy to be kind to people who are nice to you but….

  11. We look forward to Rafa holding the trophy #14 . Beating Djokovic was the toughest hurdle and should make history of 22 Grand Slams more possible , if not inevitable.

  12. You did great what a match congratulations and hope you do well on Friday vamos rafa

  13. Thank you Rafa, For everything. We hope and pray that you are ready for the semis and also that you go all the way. It won’t be easy at all, but full strength and best of luck to you.

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