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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Thursday May 18, 2023

Rafael Nadal

The King of Clay will step away from the court for several months in order to get healthy for a final season in 2024.

Photo Source: TTV

Rafael Nadal will not be able to defend his Roland-Garros title in 2023.

The Spaniard held a press conference on Thursday at the Nadal Academy in Mallorca, outlining his reasons for missing the tournament, and his plans for the remainder of 2023, leading into a 2024 that he believes will be his last on the tour.

Tennis Express

“First thing, I will not be able to play in Roland-Garros,” the 14-time French Open champion told reporters in the English portion of his press conference. “As you know, I was working as much as possible every single day for the last four months. It has been very difficult months because we were not able to find the solution to the problem that I had in Australia.

"So, today, still in a position that I am not able to feel myself ready to compete at the standards that I need to play at Roland-Garros.”

The King of Clay, who owns a remarkable 112-3 record on the terre battue in Paris, has struggled with a left hip flexor injury since the Australian Open, where he initially suffered the injury during a second-round loss to Mackenzie McDonald.

Nadal says he needs to take time off the court, and he isn’t sure how much time away he will need.

“I need to stop,” Nadal said. “I need to stop for a while, so my decision is to stop. I don't know when I gonna be able to come back to the practice court, but I am gonna stop for a while, maybe two months, maybe one month and a half, maybe three months, maybe four months. I don't know. I am not the guy who likes to predict a lot the future so I'm just following my personal feelings.

“I am just following what I really believe is the right thing to do, for my body and for my personal happiness.”

Nadal reiterated that there are no guarantees, but says he believes his plan gives him the highest probability of playing a full 2024 season, which he says would be his last on the tour.

“I don’t want to put myself in a position to say one thing and then do another thing, but my goal or my ambition is to try to stop, to give myself an opportunity to enjoy next year, which is probably gonna be my last year on the professional tour,” he said.

“That's my idea. Even that I can’t say 100 percent that it’s gonna be like this because you never know what can happen. But my idea and my motivation is to try to enjoy, to try to say goodbye to all the tournaments that have been important for me and my tennis career, and just try to enjoy that – being competitive and being on court, something that today is not possible.

“I really believe that if I keep going now, I will not be able to [play and enjoy and become competitive]. I don’t know if I stop will I be able to, but I think the chances are much higher.

Nadal: I Don't Want to End My Career with a Press Conference

In the Spanish section of his press conference, Nadal said exactly what was on his mind regarding retirement.

"I don't like the word but I feel strong enough to say it: I don't think I deserve to end like this,” Nadal said in Spanish. “I’ve worked hard enough throughout my career for my end not to be in a press conference.

“After that you never know what can happen,” Nadal said. “I’m going to try to make my last year not just a party, I'm going to try to compete at the highest level, give myself the option to try to compete and win tournaments on this clay tour. The reality is that we'll have to wait for that.”


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