May 19, 2023 - Sports

Nadal admits the end is near

rafael nadal

Nadal at Thursday's news conference. Photo: Clara Margais/picture alliance via Getty Images

Rafael Nadal announced Thursday that he will miss the French Open because of a lingering hip injury — and that he expects 2024 to be his final season.

Why it matters: Eight months after Roger Federer retired, his longtime friend and rival has acknowledged that he, too, is nearing the end.

The big picture: Nadal's 18-year dominance at the French Open is among the most spectacular achievements in all of sports.

  • He's won 14 titles at Roland Garros since his 2005 debut, the most by any player at any major in tennis history.
  • That includes last year's title, which he won on an anesthetized foot.

Wild stat: Nadal has played 115 matches at the French Open and won 112 of them. Preposterous. The "King of Clay," indeed.

Table: Axios Visuals
Table: Axios Visuals

State of play: Nadal, 36, had a sensational 2022 campaign that saw him start 20-1 and win two majors. But it's been an injury-plagued struggle as of late.

  • He's just 1-3 this season and has dropped seven of his past nine matches.
  • In March, he fell out of the top 10 for the first time since April 2005.

What he's saying: Nadal said he doesn't want to set a date for his return, but he expects to be out for a while as he tries to ramp up for a farewell 2024 season.

  • "I am going to stop. I am not going to train," he said Thursday at his tennis academy in Manacor, Spain.
  • "These have been many months with many moments of frustration, and I can handle frustration. But there comes a time when you have to stop."
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