“I feel that’s not a good idea” – Nadal doubtful on prospects of playing Wimbledon

The 22-time Grand Slam champion believes that the switch to grass before a clay-court Olympics may be too much of a stretch for him physically

Rafael Nadal, Roland-Garros, 2024 Rafael Nadal, Roland-Garros, 2024 © Michael Baucher / Panoramic
Roland Garros •First round • completed
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In the immediate aftermath of what is likely to be Rafael Nadal‘s final appearance at Roland-Garros, the 22-time Grand Slam champion was doubtful about his prospects for a similar farewell appearance at Wimbledon next month.

When Nadal first announced that 2024 was likely to be his last year on tour, one of the clearest messages he made was that he wanted the opportunity to say goodbye to the tournaments that have meant the most to him over the course of his astounding career.

Wimbledon must certainly be one of those tournaments. The 2008 final alone, in which Nadal finally dethroned Roger Federer to claim his maiden title at SW19, would be reason enough for one last return to the green courts of South West London. That match remains, in many people’s minds, the finest in tennis history.

However, with the clay-court Paris Olympics this summer a top priority, the Spaniard is wary of such a quick change of surfaces within a short space of time as preserving his body remains the ultimate aim. He revealed this was the concern at today’s post-match press conference following a first-round loss to Alexander Zverev at Roland-Garros.

“It looks difficult, honestly,” was Nadal’s honest summation when asked about his prospects of playing Wimbledon in five weeks’ time.

“For me now I can’t confirm what’s going on. But for me now it looks difficult to make a transition to grass, having Olympics again on clay.”

As has been the theme throughout the course of Nadal’s 2024 farewell tour, he was quick to stress that nothing remains off the table, and he could not entirely confirm one way or another whether he would compete at the season’s third Grand Slam.

“I cannot confirm anything. I need to talk with team. I need to analyse so many facts,” Nadal continued.

Nadal loses to Djokovic in five-set thriller at Wimbledon 2018

But given how reluctant the Spaniard has been to rule anything out, his immediate candour about Wimbledon indicates a clear course of direction over the next few weeks leading up to the Olympics.

“I don’t think it’s going to be smart after all the things that happened to my body to now make a big transition to a completely different surface and then come back immediately to clay,” was Nadal’s admission.

“Today I feel that’s not a good idea, but I can’t confirm. But my feelings is even if I am booked in Wimbledon because I had to, I don’t think it’s a positive idea right now.”

wimbledon not the happiest of hunting grounds for nadal in recent years

Despite the legendary memories Nadal has made at SW19 over the years – ones that are forever written into tennis folklore history – he has struggled at Wimbledon in recent years, falling early or being ruled out by injury on successive occasions between 2012 and 2017, and he has not returned to the final since 2011.

Perhaps most significant, however, are the potential hazards that the slippery, unpredictable conditions of the British grass-court surfaces pose to a physique that is creaking as much as Nadal’s is at nearly 38 years old.

For these reasons, preserving himself for the Olympics on his favoured clay courts seems reasonable for Nadal.

However, with this admission comes the almost audible groan from tournament organisers at the All England Club, as well as the legion of adoring British fans of the Spaniard, hoping to see Nadal play in their backyard one final time.

If Wimbledon does not make it onto Nadal’s list of final stops on his farewell tour, the decision will be a disappointing one for many, but also one that is ultimately understood.

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