JUST IN: Rafael Nadal confirms Barcelona appearance and issues retirement statement

Nadal set to return to action in Barcelona but his retirement plans remain in place.

by Dzevad Mesic
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JUST IN: Rafael Nadal confirms Barcelona appearance and issues retirement statement
© Getty Images Sport - Alex Caparros

Rafael Nadal has just held a special press conference at the Barcelona Open to announce that he will be returning to action this week but also confirmed that he considers this his "last Barcelona appearance."

After withdrawing from the Monte Carlo Masters and disappointingly being forced to delay his return and start of the clay season, Nadal went to Barcelona last week so he could get some practice and see where things would go from there. During the weekend, Nadal remained in the tournament player field and his name was drawn when the tournament's main draw was released. 

But after it was announced earlier in the morning that Nadal would today hold a special press conference in Barcelona, many feared the worst and that Nadal was about to announce his withdrawal from a tournament once again. Fortunately, that didn't happen as Nadal started the press conference by confirming that he will show up on the court tomorrow to play against Flavio Cobolli. 

"I came here a bit of a last-minute decision, because I didn't know if I was going to be able to play. Tomorrow I'll be on the court," Nadal said, via Punto de Break.

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal © Getty Images Sport - Alex Caparros
 

Nadal had some serious doubts about his Barcelona participation

After sustaining a tear in his muscle at the start of his comeback, Nadal also dealt with an abdominal issue in the last few months. That forced Nadal to miss some of the tournaments he really wanted to play during his farewell year - the Australian Open and the Masters events in Indian Wells, Miami, and of course his beloved Monte Carlo. 

When Nadal arrived in Barcelona, he wasn't sure if he was going to make it. But he did in the end. 

"I thought 'can I or can't I?' It has been two difficult years. I'm coming from a major hip operation, which takes a while to recover from. Things happen in the body and I couldn't follow the schedule I wanted. When you can't, you can't. Although it hurts me, it is what it is.," Nadal said.

"At this point in my career, I am in a different situation. For me, before regretting where I haven't been able to be, for me, it is a gift to be in Barcelona. I take it as my last year and I want to enjoy every moment. I feel ready to play tomorrow. I don't think about how I get there. I know what the situation is, that I am just preparing, but I am realistic. For me, being here is a joy."

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal © Getty Images Sport - Alex Caparros
 

Nadal confirms this is very likely his last Barcelona participation

Since revealing his retirement plans last May, 37-year-old Nadal has reiterated several times over the last several months that he indeed considers this as his last year in pro tennis. 

In Barcelona, Nadal played for the first time as a 15-year-old kid in 2002 when he competed in the qualifying event. For the Spaniard - who made his Barcelona main draw debut at the age of 16 in 2003 - this will be his 17th and likely final main draw appearance at the tournament. 

However, Nadal - a record 12-time Barcelona champion - didn't completely shut the doors on possibly playing again in 2025 but underlined that chances for that aren't that high. 

"I take this as my last participation at the Conde de Godó. I don't know what will happen in the future, but I'm going to try to give myself my best chance. The week of training has been positive and I leave with the hope of doing my best," Nadal confirmed.

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal © Getty Images Sport - Alex Caparros
 

Meanwhile, Nadal also shared that he has been some positive signs in his body since coming to Barcelona to practice. However, the former world No. 1 also revealed that he hasn't been able to practice much his serve and admitted that he enters the tournament not knowing how everything will go. 

"My feelings in training have been better than those I had in Mallorca. My body sensations have also been better and I feel ready to compete. Then we'll see what happens. I haven't been able to practice service much," Nadal said.

"I will try to take on the burdens progressively. There is uncertainty, but it is what it is. You have to live with it. Within all of this, you have to be able to see things positively and be able to enjoy competing again, being in a tennis tournament, and here I am. What may or may not happen is less important to me."

When Nadal and 21-year-old Cobolli meet in the Barcelona first round, that will be their first meeting. Cobolli is currently enjoying a career-high ranking of No. 62 in the world and there's no doubt that Nadal won't take the 21-year-old Italian for granted.

Rafael Nadal
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