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Has Nadal's Days as Grand Slam Champion Over & What the Future Holds For Him?

© AFP 2023 JAIME REINASpanish tennis player Rafael Nadal gestures as he talks during a press conference to announce he will not compete in the French Open, at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Manacor, on the Spanish Balearic Island of Mallorca, on May 18, 2023.
Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal gestures as he talks during a press conference to announce he will not compete in the French Open, at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Manacor, on the Spanish Balearic Island of Mallorca, on May 18, 2023. - Sputnik India, 1920, 19.05.2023
Rafael Nadal nursed a hip injury at the start of the season, resulting in a shock second-round Australian Open loss in January. He hasn't picked up a racket since.
Spanish tennis superstar Rafael Nadal on Thursday dropped a bombshell, revealing that he would not be competing in this year's French Open as he was yet to make a full recovery from a hip injury.

The names of Roland Garros and Nadal are often taken in the same breath as the southpaw has dominated the Grand Slam tournament like no other man in history.

Not only, the Majorcan has lifted the trophy in Paris on 14 different occasions, he holds an unbelievable 116-3 win/loss record at a competition even the legends of the game have struggled to even once.

The great Roger Federer could only win the competition once in 2009, while American Pete Sampras never registered a title triumph on red dirt of the French capital.

During the last two decades, Nadal's love for Parisian clay has cemented his status as one of the sport's all-time greats, as the 36-year-old is currently the joint record holder of 22 Majors alongside arch-rival Novak Djokovic.

Federer with 20 Grand Slam titles to his name remains the third on the coveted list.
Serbia's Novak Djokovic reacts during a practice session ahead of the Adelaide International Tennis tournament in Adelaide, Australia, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. - Sputnik India, 1920, 29.01.2023
Novak Djokovic Claims La Decima in Melbourne, Equals Rafael Nadal's Grand Slam Record
However, Nadal's announcement 24 hours earlier, in which he detailed the sad state of his health, has raised question marks over his ability to add another Grand Slam title to his impressive trophy collection.
"I was working as much as possible every single day for the last four months. It has been very difficult months because we were not able to find the solution to the problem that I had in Australia," Nadal told the media during an emotional press conference in Manacor.
"Today I'm still in a position that I am not able to feel myself ready to compete at the standards that I need to be [at] to play a Roland-Garros. I am not the guy that is going to be at Roland-Garros and just try to be there and put myself in a position that I don't like to be [in]," he added.
Though Nadal's impending statement regarding his pull out from the French Open was expected, not many believed that he would announce the dateline of hanging his boots altogether.
But Nadal did clarify that he was running out of time and reckoned that 2024 would be the last year of his illustrious career.
"My ambition is to try to enjoy next year, which will probably be my last year in professional competition. My motivation is to try to say goodbye to all the important tournaments. 2024 will probably be my last year. I'm not going to set a return date before that. It could be reaching the Davis Cup at the end of 2023," he underlined.
It was these comments from Nadal which sent social media into a meltdown as well as made former players believe that his days as a Grand Slam winner were all but over.
Former Indian Davis Cup star Vishal Uppal opined that Nadal's career was extremely close to being over.
"The end to his illustrious career is close. I said at the start of the year if Nadal does not defend or play at the French Open, then he will retire. He might play the French Open next year just as a farewell, but I cannot see him making a triumphant comeback, the writing is on the wall," Uppal told Sputnik on Friday.
He noted that the tennis fraternity had seen the last of Nadal as a Grand Slam champion.
Meanwhile, Rio Olympics women's champion Monica Puig too seemed to agree with Uppal's analysis of Nadal's future.
"He's had so many injuries throughout his whole career. His entire game was based off of how physical he was out there. So, I mean, it's kind of understandable that now it's time. I mean, his body can only take so much," she said while reacting to the news of Nadal's withdrawal.