Rafael Nadal doesn’t want to hear about retirement

Rafael Nadal after his victory in the first round of the Australian Open against the British Jack Draper, Monday January 16, 2023, on the Rod Laver Arena, in Melbourne.

In the game of predictions for 2023, Alexander Zverev did not hesitate to get wet, on the eve of the launch of the Australian Open (January 16 to 29), the first Grand Slam tournament of the season. “Unfortunately, Rafael Nadal will retire after Roland-Garrosreplied the German (13e worldwide) at Eurosport, with a smirk. (…) I think he’s going to have a great tournament, potentially win it again and then say goodbye. It would be the perfect conclusion. »

The future will tell if Zverev has a divinatory instinct, but, since his arrival in Melbourne, the “reigning champ”, obviously not yet satiated, multiplies the signs of fulfillment. There was only to see his exalted goat jump after simply winning the first set in his first victorious round, Monday, January 16, against the promising young Briton Jack Draper (7-5, 2-6, 6- 4, 6-1), to be convinced of this. And, in an open-air Rod Laver Arena despite a few showers, his groans still betrayed his ferocity and not an imminent agony.

A year ago, in this same setting, the Spaniard had managed one of the most beautiful hold-ups in modern tennis. After doubting whether he could resume his career, his left foot in plaster four months earlier (he suffers from Muller-Weiss syndrome, a degenerative disease which causes a deformation of the scaphoid), Nadal had won, at 35, his second title at the Australian Open, thirteen years after the first.

“I have never lost so much”

An epilogue anchored a little more in the memories in view of the scenario of the final. Led two sets to zero by Daniil Medvedev, the Mallorcan had miraculously returned from hell, pushing the Russian into a suffocating fifth set, to finally overthrow him. Came out groggy, the winner of the US Open 2021 has still not understood the why and how, without managing to erase the trauma all season.

Read also: Tennis: an Australian Open promised to Novak Djokovic and Iga Swiatek?

But, as Nadal recalled on the eve of starting the 2023 edition, “everything goes very fast in sport. What happened last year is in the past and it is already behind us”. The world number 2, who recovered the status of seeded 1 of the tournament following the withdrawal of Carlos Alcaraz (injured in the leg), had landed in Melbourne Park having lost the instructions for victory: he remained on six defeats in seven games. “I’ve never lost so much as I do right now, that’s the truth, he admitted Saturday at a press conference. I feel vulnerable, of course, but I accept the situation with humility. I need to regain my momentum and confidence, but for that I need victories. »

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