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Rafa Will Continue Playing as Long as He Has the Chance to Win - Toni Nadal

By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Wednesday, October 5 2022

Toni Nadal says that Rafael Nadal has no plans to retire and that he will play for as long as he believes he is able to win at an acceptable level.

“I'm not a fortune teller, I don't know,” said the Uncle and former coach of the legend, to Diario “I think that as long as he feels he has a chance of winning, he will continue. When he sees that he has no options, if he goes to a tournament and has no chance of winning, I don't think he will play.

Tennis Express

“How much time does Rafa have left? I don't know, he will clearly depend on his rivals, on his body…"

Nadal is 38-5 on the season with four titles, including his 21st and 22nd Grand Slam. When he's been healthy he has been a tour de force - in other words, all signs point to the Spaniard playing until that changes.

Uncle Toni says that Rafael has not reached the crossroads yet.

“I think that, as long as you feel competitive and have the luck to continue winning... Of course, if one is suffering more than necessary, there comes a time when you say you're leaving, but Rafael has not reached this situation,” Nadal said.

It was a great but difficult season for Nadal, who burst out of the gates with a title at the Australian Open and rode a 20-match winning streak into the Indian Wells final. But injuries crept in. He struggled to manage his foot issue and still won Roland-Garros, but his body let him down again at Wimbledon, where he was forced to pull out ahead of his semifinal.

“It is true that he has had different problems and this affects you in the end, but the main thing is that he wants to play,” Uncle Toni said. “To one who has that desire I would never tell him to stop. … There are people who are sometimes very demanding and want them to retire. No, as long as you can play and do what you like, the normal thing is to continue.”

A Difficult Year

Uncle Toni says that Nadal’s difficulties have taken a toll both on his body and his spirit.

“Today I talked to him and now he is fine,” he said. “It is true that he has had a difficult year. It could have been an extraordinary season, but it has been marred by the continual inconvenience he has had. The results went well because he won Australia and Roland Garros, but you leave with a bitter taste in your mouth. At Wimbledon he couldn't play a semifinal when he was playing well and was a clear candidate for the title, there were also problems in New York... What an athlete wants above all else is to be well and play, and also win. My nephew has won, but he has been in more trouble than one can bear sometimes.”

Federer Forced Rafa to Adapt

Toni said that his nephew has been made a better player by Roger Federer, and added that he was saddened by the Swiss’ retirement as well. He said he would have loved to watch him continue his career, because he enjoyed the style of game that he played.

“When you have a rival that forces you to go to the limit, either you go to the limit or you go out. Federer always made things very difficult for us on any surface,” he said. “There was no choice but for Rafael to adapt and always look for solutions. I think that both Rafael forced Federer to go to the limit, as well as Roger forced my nephew to the same.”

Ruud Will Fight for No.1

Nadal is currently a coach on Felix Auger-Aliassime’s team, but also has a strong connection via the Rafael Nadal Academy in Mallorca. He says he believes that Ruud, a current World No.3, wil be in a position to fight for No.1 in the years to come.

“He is a player that I hope will continue to be there for a long time, that he will fight for number one in the following years. He is also a very serious tennis player, a great person and very nice,” he said.

“Casper is one of the best and has been up there for two years now. He is a consolidated player among the best. … Proof of this is that he has beaten many top-10 players, very good people, and has been able to play two Grand Slam finals, which is not easy. It is true that he has lost both. With Rafael he lost easily, with Alcaraz he had his chances of victory.”