Rafael Nadal withdraws from Roland Garros and plans retirement in 2024

(AP) – For months, Rafael Nadal waited for his body to heal. Waited to be able to push himself around a court at full speed, with full energy, of the sort that has carried him to a record 14 titles at the French Open and a total of 22 at all Grand Slam tournaments.

He finally acknowledged Thursday it wasn’t going to happen in time for Roland Garros, where play begins in 10 days — and, while he’s not exactly sure when he will be fully recovered from a lingering hip injury, Nadal said he expects to return to action at some point and probably wrap up his career in 2024.

Speaking at a news conference at his tennis academy in Manacor, Spain, Nadal announced he will miss the clay-court French Open for the first time since making his debut — and, naturally, claiming the trophy — there in 2005. He also spoke about his future in a sport that he and Big Three rivals Roger Federer, who retired last year, and Novak Djokovic have ruled for decades.

“You can´t keep demanding more and more from your body, because there comes a moment when your body raises a white flag,” said Nadal, who sat alone on a stage, wearing jeans and a white polo shirt, as his session with the media was carried live in Spain by the state broadcaster’s 24-hour sports network. “Even though your head wants to keep going, your body says this is as far it goes.”

He did not offer a date for his return to the tennis tour, but said it is likely to take months.

“You never know how things will turn out,” said Nadal, who answered questions in English, Spanish and the local Mallorcan dialect, “but my intention is that next year will be my last year.”

One thing he made clear: He does not want to bow out like this, holding a microphone in his left hand instead of a racket. Nadal has been the ultimate competitor, playing every point as if it might be his last, as if the outcome might depend on each and every swing.

That hard-charging style has been at the heart of his brilliance on the court — and also perhaps contributed to a series of injuries over the years.

“I don’t deserve,” Nadal said, “to end my career like this, in a press conference.”

He is just 1-3 this season and has dropped seven of his past nine matches overall, dating to a fourth-round loss to Frances Tiafoe in the U.S. Open’s fourth round last September.

The Spaniard hasn’t competed anywhere since he lost to Mackie McDonald in the second round of the Australian Open on Jan. 18, when his movement clearly was restricted by a bothersome left hip flexor. That was Nadal’s earliest Grand Slam exit since 2016.

An MRI exam the next day revealed the extent of the injury, and his manager said at the time that Nadal was expected to need up to two months to fully recover. He initially aimed to enter the Monte Carlo Masters in March on his beloved red clay, but he wasn’t able to play there, then subsequently sat out tournament after tournament, decreasing the likelihood that he would be ready for the French Open.

It is one thing for Nadal to lose more frequently, and in earlier rounds, than he usually has over the course of his illustrious career — one in which his 22 major titles are tied with Djokovic for the most by a man (Federer won 20), and includes 92 trophies in all, along with more than 1,000 tour-level match wins.

It is another thing entirely for Nadal to be missing from Roland Garros, where he has appeared 18 times in a row and has won 112 of 115 career matches. He lifted the trophy in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2022, when he became the oldest champion in tournament history.

A tweet posted on the French Open account Thursday and addressed to “Rafa” read: “We can’t imagine how hard this decision was. We’ll definitely miss you at this year’s Roland-Garros. Take care of yourself to come back stronger on courts. Hoping to see you next year in Paris.”

Nadal’s birthday is June 3, when ordinarily he might have been playing his third-round match in Court Philippe Chatrier weeks from now.

Instead, Nadal will be absent right from the start in Paris this time. And soon, it seems, he could be bidding the tennis tour adieu for good.

“Tournaments stay forever; players play and leave. So Roland Garros will always be Roland Garros, with or without me, without a doubt. The tournament is going to keep being the best event in the world of clay, and there will be a new Roland Garros champion — and it is not going to be me,” Nadal said. “And that is life.”

Source: Associated Press


  1. so sorry to hear your recovery not going well all the very best for your future and hope to see you soon vamos rafa

  2. Vamos Rafa and never give up! ✊
    I do believe that the king with health and courage will be on court one day! ✌

  3. Finally There comes that moment of life where tennis would stop for me for life bcz I enjoyed like many other Rafans Around the world. I fall many times only to stand up again by this amazing Sportsman who just never Gave up but This has to end one day. You are the best athlete ever for me. I will be following You for yours n my life. I want to end your Career on clay For one last time. Best of luck for your Career n Future goals. I love you and you will be missed.
    Dr Khawar Taimoor

  4. I will be fully supporting alcaraz for the french open and wimbeldon. I do believe that nole right now is not the favorite to win the french open. He himself is struggling at the moment. I have lost interest in watching tennis since the australian open. Have not watched any of the tournaments.

    Atp tennis is not ready to move on from rafa right now.

  5. I am more optimistic. If you listen carefully to rafa he said that he is going to take some time off not thinking about tennis. And perhaps he should. Rafa said himself that he is mentally not happy at the moment due various reasons. It would be good for him not to think about tennis and do other things with his family and also talk with a therapist he trusts.

    He also said that his first priority is to be fit again. Hopefully this hip injury will heal at some moment. He also said that saying goodbye in 2024 was not for certain it depends on a whole lot of things. He wanted to keep all options on the table. Everything depends on his psychicality. Rafa doesnt want to end his career like this. If rafa becomes healthy again and regains his level and stay injury free then he will prolong his career with one or two years. If not then next year is his last year.

    • Exactly. And that is a key point. He loves the process of and preparing for competition but constantly battling injuries has taken a huge mental toll. I do hope he takes time off and heals fully before playing.
      And all I’m going to say is thanks for everything Rafa. He has given us a lot of joy over 19 years but the clock never stops. I do hope he recovers and gives it one final shot.

  6. Tennis has had no interest for me since January as my hero has been missing. It is understandable why Rafa can’t play at RG. We need to give Rafa the time for this hip injury to heal. As Rafans we will all delight at the next court we see him walk onto. Its hard to think of his impending retirement be it 12 to 18 months away 😪I just pray for his complete healing so that he returns to playing the sport he loves . God Bless you my Champion. Vamos

Leave a Reply