King of Clay Abdicates His Crown
In breaking tennis news Rafael Nadal announced he will not be competing at the French Open for the first time in 19 years. The man known as the ‘King of Clay’ for his record 14 French Open titles on the faux clay surface at Roland Garros in Paris, France will not defend the title he won last year and stated that 2024 may be the last for the soon-to-be 37-year-old tennis icon.
Nadal broke the stunning news on Thursday via a presser at his tennis academy in Manacor, Spain.
“We were not able to find a solution to the problem I had in Australia.”
Rafael Nadal will miss the French Open. 🎾 pic.twitter.com/Afp1L3zJ75
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) May 18, 2023
“You can´t keep demanding more and more from your body, because there comes a moment when your body raises a white flag,” said Nadal, through Spain’s state broadcasting network. “Even though your head wants to keep going, your body says this is as far as it goes.”
Nadal not only holds the record for French Open titles but became its oldest champion when he won it last year at the age of 36. When asked what the timeline was for his return, Nadal was forthright.
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“I am going to stop, I am not going to train. I am not ready to train,” Nadal said, alternating between speaking in Spanish and English. “These have been many months with many moments of frustration, and I can handle frustration, but there comes a time when you have to stop.”
When reflecting on his own legacy, and the future of the French Open, he wistfully stated, “Tournaments stay forever; players play and leave. So, Roland Garros will always be Roland Garros, with or without me, without a doubt. The tournament is going to keep being the best event in the world of clay, and there will be a new Roland Garros champion – and it is not going to be me,” Nadal said. “And that is life.”
Are we seeing the last of Nadal? C’est la vie, Rafael. Adieu, but never goodbye.