Tennis legend John McEnroe has made his prediction as to when 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal will hang up his racquet ahead of this week’s Australian Open.
It comes after world No. 13 Alexander Zverev also suggested that the Spaniard would retire after this year’s French Open, famously his most successful Slam, having won it a staggering 14 times.
“I don’t want it to happen, but I think he will have a great tournament, potentially win it and say goodbye”, said Zverev in a 2023 predictions video for Eurosport.
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However, McEnroe believes it is “tough to write Rafa off at any point, given that he did so well last year.
“I continue to be amazed by him.
“It’s amazing how much hunger he has still, with all the success that he’s had.
“Obviously, at 36, your body can only take so much; at some point it is going to give out.
“How much longer can he do this at this level?”
“As soon as he, I think, feels like he can’t win majors, he’s going to stop.”
The Spaniard has dismissed any talk of retirement, however, denying he has calling it quits at all.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen in six months,” Nadal said.
“I have a very good relationship with Zverev, but not enough to confess something like that to him.”
After fellow legend Roger Federer’s retirement from the sport last year alongside Serena Williams and Ash Barty, Nadal’s future is at the centre of significant attention in the sport, as one of the last remaining greats from the golden era of 2000s men’s tennis.
Asked whether the emerging generation could match the lofty heights of that era, he said there was “no doubt about the potential” in the game’s newest stars, but urged fans to retain “perspective” on the scale of the achievements of his era.
“They are super good – but Carlos (Alcaraz) has one grand slam and the others have zero yet,” Nadal told reporters on Saturday.
“So if we start talking about achieving 22 grand slams, or 21, 20, it’s a big deal.
“Will not be easy for it to happen two generations in a row.
“To put pressure on their shoulders to achieve these kinds of numbers – I don’t think it’s fair.”
Nadal begins his title defence against Britain’s Jack Draper today on Rod Laver Arena.