100% of Rafa Nadal’s rights
Víctor García
May 28, 2024

When the Rafa NadalAlexander Zverev match ended, the doubt of whether or not there would be a tribute began to take center stage. His’ other tournaments, the Conde de Godó in Barcelona and the Masters 1000 in Madrid had given it to him, so how could he not have it at Roland Garros? Tournament director Amelie Mauresmo had “everything planned in case something happened. It was a matter of touching the button to activate it. You will have it when you want to have a proper ceremony, a proper goodbye and farewell. So we won’t do it this year. That’s his wish.” Tennis and the rush of this world want to say goodbye, but Nadal, as in the matches he was given up for lost, prefers to exhaust all possibilities… “I can’t say 100%“.

A few days ago, Madrid paid tribute to a world soccer figure, Toni Kroos. The footballer, who is currently in one of the best moments of his career, was flattered by the decision to retire at the top of his career. He has earned his right to say “no” to continuing at the elite level or going to a lower league to continue expanding his bank account. It is as personal a decision as someone who chooses to go to the United States or Saudi Arabia, the two fashionable soccer leagues to retire. The ideal for an athlete is to be able to choose how and when to leave, without having to be told from the outside “you are no longer good for this” or “not here, go somewhere else”.

Michael Jordan, in his day, already chose to have a ‘last dance’ and Tiger Woods, after a break that seemed definitive, also wanted to return to savor what it was like to feel like a professional golfer. Roger Federer was disappearing little by little, almost naturally, changing the grass of Wimbledon for the grass of his home (before he had already moved away from the earth and some of the cement) until a statement confirmed his definitive retirement.


Now, Nadal, who was told more than 15 years ago that his physical problems would not allow him to have a very long career, is beginning to define his farewell. But, like other sporting legends, he wants to write the end himself. He is grateful that they have tributes prepared wherever he walks, but he wants to be the one to say that he will no longer be there. “I don’t know if it’s the last time I’ll be here. I can’t say 100%. I hope to be back on this track for the Olympics, that motivates me and I hope to be well prepared. After the Games I have to see how I am on a motivational, physical and tennis level to see if it makes sense to keep playing.”

He is not worried about the fireworks or receiving one more or one less tribute, or doing it dressed in shorts or, on the contrary, in long pants and shirt in a while. For example, it seems that this is how it will be at what was his favorite tournament when he was a kid: “It’s difficult for me to go to Wimbledon. I don’t think it’s appropriate to make a transition from grass to clay when the Games are on clay. It’s not a positive idea.”

As when he dominates an opponent on the court, Nadal has set the tempo for his retirement. Also rivals like Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz or the number one Iga Swiatek, who attended his duel with Zverev thinking it would be the last time who has managed to have a statue in a facility where a few years ago (quite a few) received booing from his audience.

“I want to continue although I don’t know until when”

“I enjoy the sport, the competition, I like to train, I like to play tennis. I like to travel with my family and I enjoy these moments that are not coming back. I want to continue although I don’t know until when,” said Nadal to try to express the reason for his desire to continue and not to set dates or medium-term goals. There is another sports idol in Spain who was also the subject of comments about his retirement: the cyclist Alejandro Valverde, a guy who had won classics, the rainbow jersey and was a regular in the top 10 of the grand tours in which he participated. Well, Alejandro retired at the age of 42 precisely because up to that moment he was still enjoying the training sessions, the rallies… and he was still in the top 10 in the grand tours. Why should he retire earlier? This way of acting is contrary to that of Toni Kroos and more similar to that of another local idol, the driver Fernando Alonso, who at 43 years old will continue in the elite of Formula 1 or Carlos Sainz (father) who continues to win the Dakar Rally at the age of 61…

No matter how much noise the outside world makes, each star traces his own path and the only thing that all and every one of the retirements of the stars of the sport coincide is that they have earned the right to decide how and when to leave. And Rafa Nadal is on it.

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