Nadal is not Federer: “I hope you don’t think my career is over”
Carlos Alcaraz is the new world number one and Roger Federer says goodbye to tennis, but Rafael Nadal wants no confusion: his career continues, he does not plan to retire.
“I hope you do not think that my career is over, far from it,” said the Spaniard on Tuesday when he received an award from the King of Spain at the University of Alcalá de Henares.
A king who had just returned from London, from the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, and a king of sport who would then fly, on Thursday, to the British capital, for the Laver Cup.
Minutes before, when thanking for the award, Nadal had raised, smiling, something that he wants to be understood very well: “I hope that with this award it is not given to understand that my career in tennis is over; it is not my intention”.
So much insistence of Nadal has its logic: to the blow of Alcaraz and the exit of the scene of Federer is added his imminent paternity. Maria Perelló, his wife, will give birth next month.
“It’s been a different and complicated year,” he admitted. “Beyond the injuries, also because of personal and family news.”
Good reasons, on the surface, to end two decades as a professional tennis player.
But Nadal, third in the world ranking at 36, made it clear that to think that is not to know him: he wants to continue, he said, “carrying the name of Spain around the world”.
It makes sense: this season he won two of the four Grand Slam tournaments and still has a chance to close the year as world number one, although his paternity will make him play very few tournaments.
The image everyone is waiting for is that of a doubles with Federer, to see for the last time on the same side of the net the two protagonists of one of the most legendary rivalries in the history of sport.
And once the Laver Cup is over and Federer starts his new life, a pause for Nadal: it will be time to become a father.
But only a pause. In 2023 he will still be there. Looking for the fifteenth Roland Garros and, on the verge of 37 years, in the head-to-head with Novak Djokovic for the most Grand Slam titles. Whether the Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner, Casper Ruud and other young players who are taking over tennis will allow it.
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