Rafael Nadal drops ‘expiration date’ hint as Wimbledon appearance remains ‘head vs heart’

Rafael Nadal has hinted at his potential retirement ahead of his 15th Wimbledon outing later this month – claiming that his career ‘has an expiration date’. The Spaniard’s career is in its twilight stages although he has won two Grand Slams in 2022 to take his overall tally to 22 Majors.

The Spaniard won his 21st Grand Slam against Daniil Medvedev back in January at the Australian Open, but was subsequently injured right up until the beginning of the French Open at Roland Garros. The 36-year-old, who has held the nickname ‘The King of Clay’ throughout his career, held off injury woes to win his 14th title at Roland Garros, including an impressive quarter-final victory over Novak Djokovic.

However, mindful of his spell on the sidelines, Nadal has yet to become too carried away with the idea of winning all four Slams this year. The Mallorca-born icon has claimed his career has gone on longer than he imagined, giving himself an ‘expiration date’ – and thus casting doubt on how much longer he has left in him. 

And Nadal also spoke about his chances of playing at Wimbledon this year as he continues to battle injury, insisting that it is a head vs heart situation. “My career has been longer than I hoped for, I have achieved more success than I ever thought,” Nadal said to Antena 3.

“What will happen in the future? I don’t know what will happen. Obviously there will be a time when this is all over, because this has an expiration date. But I like to keep doing what I like as long as it is possible. Doubts do not bother me. In the end they are logical and I am the first to have them.

“I think they help you stay awake and improve: when you have doubts it means that you are not so sure of yourself, and therefore do more to seek that security.”

On Wimbledon he added: “As for London, the heart would say play, the mind would say rest. Without doubt, it is better to play in this way than with pain. It is a theme that cannot be prolonged over time: having won the title [at Roland Garros], it is clear that it was worth it.

“They numbed my foot with the anesthetic. In my opinion, it has an added value that I was able to concentrate on the game and put aside everything I had to do in order to compete.”

A straight-sets win over Casper Ruud in the final at the French Open allowed the world to marvel at his exploits once more. And the Dane described just how difficult it is to play against Nadal on clay after being annihilated. “I didn’t know exactly where to play there in the end, and he made me run around the court too much,” Ruud said after the game.

“When you are playing defensive against Rafa on clay, he will eat you alive. It was tough for me to really know where I should play the ball because from both sides, he [is] strong. On the forehand he plays with a little bit of spin and kind of feels like you’re playing a right-handed forehand.”

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