Rafael Nadal backed to copy Andy Murray as Spaniard’s French Open reign over
John McEnroe has assessed Rafael Nadal’s comeback hopes after the Spaniard revealed that 2024 would likely be his last year on the tour. Nadal is missing the French Open – where he is a 14-time champion – for the first time in his career. And McEnroe said that Nadal’s farewell lap of honour could see him end up like Andy Murray.
Nadal stunned the tennis world when he announced his withdrawal from the French Open last week. The 36-year-old has continued to struggle with a psoas injury he picked up in January, and will now spend several months away from the tennis court.
The 22-time Major champion also said he will try to return pain-free in 2024, for what he expects to be his last season on the tour. “My idea is to try and say goodbye to all the important tournaments for me in my career,” Nadal said during a press conference at his Mallorcan academy.
With the Spaniard now on the sidelines for the foreseeable future, McEnroe has assessed Nadal’s chances during his farewell tour and questioned whether he can return to his best. “It’s unfortunate obviously but it does open the door and I think it’s inevitable,” the American told Eurosport.
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“They say Father Time wins every time, and that’s what’s happened here. I’m sure that Rafa did everything he could to try to play and this is not the way he wants it to end so that’s why he’s talked about playing next yea
The seven-time Major champion also brought up Murray, who announced his retirement at the 2019 Australian Open before undergoing hip resurfacing surgery and returning to competition. He continued: “Whatever Rafa wants to do is something that we should respect and any player…you watch Murray play, he’s not the same player that he was and not nearly as highly ranked, but he wants to go out on his own terms and I’m sure it’ll be the same with Rafa.”
But the retired pro still refused to rule Nadal out of winning next year’s French Open given his record in Paris. “I would never say that he couldn’t win at Roland-Garros. Anyone that’s done what he’s done, as long as he stepped foot on a court would have a great chance,” McEnroe said.
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And he made another comparison, adding: “He reminds me a lot of Lebron James. LeBron James is a little bit older and is part of a team, but I think he proved he was still a fantastic player.
“But you know, maybe at the end of those [season-end] games he got a little tired because too much was expected from him. And at some point, that’s what’s gonna happen to Rafa, it happens to everybody, you’re going to be asking too much.
“So it’s hard to know, at this point. By the time he [Nadal] plays next year, if he plays, he’d be 38 years old during the tournament.”
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