Rafael Nadal has been struggling with injuries for the last couple of years. The Spaniard claimed a Major title in five of the previous six seasons, but he often had to take breaks and skip many essential tournaments. A six-time Major winner Boris Becker can not see Rafa playing until 40, believing his retirement is probably around the corner. Nadal could not catch a break in 2021, experiencing setbacks and skipping the second part of the season due to foot issues. With no form and matches in his legs, Rafa made a fresh start at the beginning of 2022 and surprised everyone, even himself. The Spaniard embraced a 20-0 in the season’s first four tournaments and lifted his first Australian Open crown since 2009! Nadal raised above all the challenges and took down Daniil Medvedev in an epic final to become the first player with 21 Major titles. Rafa ended his streak in the Indian Wells final against Taylor Fritz, fracturing his left rib and staying away from the court until May.
The king of play did not bring his A-game in Madrid and Rome, and his left foot was there to bother him again ahead of Roland Garros. Seeking his 14th Parisian title, Nadal needed injections ahead of matches to silent the pain and move without issues. Rafa passed tough challenges and secured his 22nd Major title following a commanding victory over Casper Ruud in the final. Nadal extended his Major streak at Wimbledon and reached the semi-final. Rafa overpowered Taylor Fritz in a thrilling quarter-final and revealed a seven-millimeter abdominal tear that forced him to withdraw and miss the Nick Kyrgios clash. Wimbledon was Nadal’s last decent tournament, struggling with injury for months and winning only four more matches by the end of the season. Hoping for another good start to the season as 12 months ago, Rafa entered the inaugural United Cup and lost to Cameron Norrie and Alex de Minaur from a set up.
Boris Becker predicted Rafael Nadal’s retirement.
Eager to chase the title defense in Melbourne, Nadal battled past Jack Draper in the first round, desperate for momentum and more victories. Instead, he ended his campaign in the second round following a 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 loss to Mackenzie McDonald in two hours and 32 minutes. The veteran injured his left hip in the second set’s closing stages and required a medical timeout. Rafa refused to retire and gave his best in the third set. McDonald broke him in the decisive moments to wrap up the victory and show Nadal the exit door. The Spaniard underwent checks and revealed an injury that should keep him from the court for six to eight weeks. Thus, Nadal should skip Doha and Dubai, hoping to play again in Indian Wells. The Spaniard is on the verge of dropping out from the top-10 for the first time since April 2005, defending 500 points from Acapulco and 600 from Indian Wells. Rafa is determined to overcome another injury and extend his career, admitting it becomes tougher and tougher to start all over and make all the comebacks.
“If you ask me if I see Rafa playing at 40, the answer is no. Rafa’s loss against Mackenzie McDonald is the first step toward his retirement. He is 36, and that injury requires time to heal. Rafa’s tennis days are numbered,” says Boris Becker.