Barbara Schett has spoken of her relief that Rafael Nadal did not announce his retirement on Thursday, and felt that the Spanish great would not have wanted to have his career ended by injury.
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There had been speculation that Nadal would call time on his career, so it came as a relief to his supporters that he confirmed he would look to play on in 2024.
Eurosport’s Schett admitted to fears that Nadal would announce his retirement, so was pleased to see him confirm he wants to continue his career.
“I was a little bit nervous,” Schett told Eurosport. “I was sure he was going to pull out of the French Open, then I was thinking ‘what if he retired as well today?’ He didn’t, so I was very happy.
“It was not realistic for him to play this year. If he wants to compete, he wants to compete at 100% – which he clearly wasn’t.”
Schett feels it would have been tough for Nadal to concede he could not fight for a title he was won on 14 occasions.
“I think it would have been a very hard decision for Rafa Nadal, we all know how much he loves Roland-Garros,” said Schett, who pointed to a positive for a player who turns 37 on June 3. “And at the end of the day he can celebrate a birthday at home.”
Schett feels the competitor in Nadal wants to end his career on his own terms.
“He wants to keep on coming back to the Tour,” Schett said. “He wants to finish his career on his terms, he does not want an injury to stop his career.
“I have spoken to many players in the past and they have always said the hardest part is players who have had their career taken away pretty much. It is the hardest part to not decide yourself when you want to call it quits.”
‘I was nervous’ – Schett relieved Nadal has not retired after French Open announcement
Nadal suggested he would retire at some point in 2024, and Schett feels it could be a farewell tour for the 22-time major winner – whetting the appetite for potentially seeing Nadal twice at Roland-Garros.
Schett said: “He wants to come back in 2024, play all his favourite tournaments.
“We know it is a big year next year with the Olympics and that means a lot to him being at Roland-Garros. We could see him twice there.
“You have to use the name Rafa Nadal in one sentence with Roland-Garros. He has won it 14 times. He is the King of Clay.
“The thought of never being able to see him play again at the French Open is tough. But there is hope we are going to see him next year.
“I love the thought of playing a 2024 season as his goodbye.”
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Schett has conceded it would be tough when the time comes for Nadal to hang up his racquet.
“It is something we have to get used to, not seeing Rafa Nadal at Roland-Garros in the future,” she said. “It is the end of a big era. We had Roger Federer retiring last year, Rafa Nadal is most likely to be next.
“But we should stay in the present. He has not retired yet. He is still around, we are still going to see him and he will try everything to be back and we will see him somewhere again as he does not want to retire like that.”
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