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Did Nadal Drop a Hint on How He'd Like to Retire?

By Richard Pagliaro | Thursday, November 17, 2022

An emotional Rafael Nadal shed tears in a poignant Fedal farewell at Laver Cup.

In the aftermath of Roger Federer's final match alongside Nadal at London's O2 Arena, the iconic champions shared hugs and tears.

Nadal: I'm Going to Die For It

Parting can be painful and thought-provoking, too.

The tennis world was touched by Federer's farewell in London. And in the months since, Big 4 champions Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have shared their visions of how they'd like to depart the stage.

“When I was on the court as well seeing his kids and his family, it got me emotional,” Djokovic said of Federer's final match. “And also I must say I was thinking how it will look for me when I say good bye.

“There is definitely one thing I would wish is that other than having my family and the people closest to me in my life there, I would love to have my biggest rivals there because it was something special and added importance to that moment.”

In contrast, Murray has said he'd prefer not announcing a final tournament farewell in advance as it adds even more pressure on actual match play.

Hopefully, we will see Djokovic, Nadal and Murray play for as long as they like.

Reigning Roland Garros and Australian Open champion Nadal has repeatedly said he's pumped to play the 2023 season. Toni Nadal, Rafa's uncle and original coach, has said he believes his nephew will continue to play as long as he's capable of competing for major championships.

Tennis Express

Though Nadal's retirement is not imminent, the 36-year-old Spanish superstar and new dad knows the career clock is ticking.

"I don't know what can happen in the future. As everybody knows, I am getting old," Nadal said with a wry smile in Turin today. "Even if I would like to be everywhere, I can't, I simply cannot."

Since sharing  a heartfelt hug and a good cry sitting side-by-side with Federer on the Team Europe bench, Nadal has had plenty of time to ponder his own exit strategy.

Did the Grand Slam king drop a hint on how he'd like to close the curtain on his brilliant career in his final Turin presser today?

Asked his thoughts on the upcoming Davis Cup Finals, Nadal said he believes host Spain, led by Pablo Carreno Busta and Roberto Bautista Agut, will be a threat even without himself and world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz on the Spanish squad.

Citing his devotion to the international team competition, Nadal shared he would "love to say good-bye from that beautiful competition."

"Let's see if I'm able to play again the Davis Cup one day. I am not sure about it," Nadal told the media in Turin. "Of course, in my mind, [I] would love to say good-bye from that beautiful competition playing. Let's see what can happen in the future."

Was that an expression of how deeply Nadal cares about Davis Cup and the Spanish team even if he never plays the competition again?

Or was the second-ranked Spaniard sharing he dreams of concluding his career someday by playing Davis Cup one last time?

Maybe one of the most under appreciated aspects of Nadal's career is the king of clay is the titan of team play. Nadal has registered a phenomenal 29-1 singles mark in Davis Cup, owns a Davis Cup record 32-match winning streak (combined singles and doubles) and has helped Spain to five Davis Cup championships. Nadal did not drop a match or surrender serve, winning all eight matches he played, to help Spain to the 2019 Davis Cup championship.

Representing Spain inspires force of nature intensity in Nadal, who won the Olympic singles gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics before partnering buddy Marc Lopez to the doubles gold at the 2016 Rio Games.Nadal and Chilean Nicolás Massú are the only men in Open Era history to win Olympic gold medals in singles and doubles.

Nadal said while his passion to play Davis Cup remains strong, advancing age and injury risk means he must manage his schedule carefully.

"If I am representing my country, I need to do it with the full passion, full confidence, and full spirit as I did in 2019 in Madrid," Nadal said. "I don't think this year I am able to be at that level of everything. The captain know that since months ago. I don't know what can happen in the future."

Here's hoping Nadal's competitive future has years of life left. When the day comes to suit up for his final match wouldn't it be fitting to see Nadal say farewell wearing his beloved Spanish colors.

Photo credit: Christopher Levy