Rafael Nadal's last big dream

The Spanish champion will play his last Roland Garros of his glorious career. With what prospects?

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Rafael Nadal's last big dream
© Clive Brunskill / Staff Getty Images Sport

His future is the issue that is causing the most talk among the media, insiders and fans (and perhaps among tennis players themselves), but Rafael Nadal seems serene and at peace.

A legend like the Spaniard, who has achieved practically everything from his glorious career, can and must feel satisfied for what he has done. Nadal rewrote the history of tennis, together with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Especially on his beloved clay courts, the Spaniard has reached a level that will be impossible for anyone to match in the future.

The Spaniard stopped in the 4th round of the Mutua Madrid Open, defeated in two sets against the Czech Jiri Lehecka, sharing emotional words and speaking with serenity about his future.

"All this is very emotional for me. The people of Madrid have never disappointed me and what they have made me feel over these years is something that will stay with me forever. Three weeks ago I didn't even know if I would still be able to play and now I had fun here instead.

I was able to say goodbye and I showed a fairly dignified level. All of this means a lot to me, especially on an emotional level. Madrid and Spain have always meant support and energy and have often helped me," he told.

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal© Clive Brunskill / Staff Getty Images Sport

"I take away from here a beautiful energy and an unforgettable memory. I will never have the opportunity to thank enough the people who made me feel this way, I don't know if it will be the last time I play in Spain or if there are other options but it will probably be like this.

Of course, there is the Davis Cup later but I don't think it's in my plans, then never say never. This was probably the last time I played in my country and I certainly have great memories," he added.

"I was moved, I didn't want to end up in tears and I held back. I finished my journey here in Madrid but I haven't finished my journey yet with racket in hand. It was an emotional night to say the least, but it's still early to let go of everything I have," said Rafa..

But it is on his possible participation at the Roland Garros that Nadal gave the most interesting words: "I don't know what can happen but now I can say that I have played four matches here in Madrid, today I was more tired but nothing serious. I managed to compete for several hours but it's nothing serious.

I'm definitely happier than I was some time ago and what can happen. In sport things can change quickly and I am doing everything with the utmost caution. Paris? After Rome I will have my say, I will have a clearer vision of what is happening but today I can't say more. I hope to be able to play in Rome, I go there with the hope of continuing to grow."

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal© Adam Pretty / Staff Getty Images Sport

There was a moment, during the tribute that the tournament organizers and the spectators present in the Caja Magica staged, in which Nadal himself wanted to joke so as not to make the atmosphere even more sad and melancholy.

"It was a joke, I'll come back next year," he said, jokingly (but who knows!).

The Spanish champion played his last match in Madrid, a tournament which he has won five times in his career, and the crowd gave him a very emotional and moving farewell. Five flags have been displayed on the Manolo Santana Stadium - in relation to the number of titles won by Nadal in his home event - capable of composing the writing: "Gracias, RAFA"

Rafael Nadal, Madrid 2024
Rafael Nadal, Madrid 2024© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

The Spaniard was emotional when they showed the video of his triumphs, but he apparently shed no tears. Nadal will play the Internazionali BNL d'Italia and then give everything at Roland Garros, where he will reveal his definitive plan.

"It's been an incredible journey that started when I was very little. It's been a gift to play here for 21 years. This moment is more important than any Slam I have won and will always stay with me. It's one of those days that's hard to accept when it arrives, but life and my body have been sending me signals for a long time.

The dream was to end up on the court. I have been lucky enough in life to be able to transform my passion into my work, I consider myself privileged. I'm lucky in life for everything I've experienced and I can't ask for more. I hope I have been an example for the new generations. I can only thank everyone who has helped me throughout my career, but it's not over yet," he analysed.

Rafael Nadal's last dream

It's not over yet, Rafa says, and he's right. Nadal showed how an iceman like him is able to get excited and make his fans emotional. A great champion like him should be celebrated in every way and at every moment, but, let's underline it: it's not over yet.

These five words must be the main reason for this analysis.

Nadal still has at least three major tournaments to play (maybe four). Rome, Roland Garros and Paris Olympics. Among the two opening commitments there would be Wimbledon, but his participation in the London Slam appears unlikely at the moment, especially for the change of surface.

Rafael Nadal, Madrid 2024
Rafael Nadal, Madrid 2024© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Going from clay to grass to clay again might be too much for his precious but currently fragile physique. Rafa more likely to skip Wimbledon.
But what must be understood is that Rafa will try to do everything possible to be competitive in Paris.

It will most likely be his last French Open and he will want to finish in the best possible way. What's next for him? He will first of all want to arrive healthy and, why not, competitive. To give yourself one last big dream.

Rafael Nadal Roland Garros