Andy Roddick fears Rafael Nadal may be inching toward Roger Federer's farewell fate

Roddick weighs in on Nadal's 2024 farewell not going as planned and its similarity to the 2022 Federer case.

by Dzevad Mesic
Andy Roddick fears Rafael Nadal may be inching toward Roger Federer's farewell fate
© Getty Images Sport - Alexander Hassenstein

Andy Roddick fears Rafael Nadal may be heading toward Roger Federer's retirement fate as the Spaniard's 2024 farewell probably could not have gone any worse so far. 

Before and after launching his post-hip surgery comeback, Nadal kept repeating that staying healthy and being competitive were his two priorities and he wasn't wishing anything other than that. Initially, Nadal's comeback got off to an outstanding start as the former world No. 1 claimed two straight-set wins in Brisbane before he was struck by bad luck again and sustained a tear in his hip during a quarterfinal loss to Jordan Thompson. 

The initial prognosis was that Nadal would be ready to play again in a couple of weeks and return to action in Doha in mid-February. But three and a half months after the injury, Nadal is still sidelined - and after missing this week's Monte Carlo Masters - the hope is that the 37-year-old can at least return in Barcelona next week.

All of this is kind of resembling Federer in 2022, who was aiming to return around Wimbledon - give last one shot to tennis - and go out on his terms. But Federer's knee wasn't progressing as expected and the Swiss ultimately ended up retiring by playing one doubles match with Nadal at the Laver Cup. 

All in all, Federer didn't get the farewell he was hoping for, and since Nadal has already missed some of the biggest tournaments at the start of 2024, he could also end up retiring without having a chance to play in some tournaments for the last time.

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal © Getty Images Sport - Cameron Spencer

"Roger retired at Laver Cup, he probably wouldn’t say this out loud, but Roger wanted to retire at Wimbledon or US Open. He wanted to play those. He wanted to do that, he wanted to say ‘goodbye’, it happened in three days as opposed to three months. It feels like we're getting closer to that being reality for Rafa," Roddick said on the Served with Andy Roddick podcast.

"I have this hope in the back of my mind that he’s gonna get healthy and he doesn’t need to be healthy for 52 weeks, he needs to be healthy for two months. Like, just burn it, go all of it, take all of the painkillers that you need to take, and let’s do one more."

Roddick thinks Nadal may be looking to say his final goodbye at the French Open

When Nadal revealed his plans to retire in 2024, he didn't say anything regarding for how long he was planning on playing this year. But naturally, many started speculating if Nadal's goal was to return at the start of the 2024 season - get himself in a proper fitness and match form when the time comes for the clay season - and eventually play the last tournament of his career at his beloved French Open. 

In Roddick's mind, Nadal potentially looking to retire at Roland Garros would make so much sense considering that it's the place where the 37-year-old Spaniard is a record 14-time champion and an absolute icon.

"Obviously, you want that goodbye at Roland Garros; it would suck if he can't get that. I got to think, like, if he's practicing but not serving well, I still got to think he's going to throw that out there in Roland Garros," Roddick said.

"I mean, if he can walk out there and at least play even if it's not great, like, I get that Monte Carlo, if I can't play 100%, I'm not playing. I guess I get it in Madrid. I get it in Rome. I don't think that line of thought holds water; he wants to say goodbye at the place that he's won 14 times."

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Roddick says Nadal doesn't need a French Open win to have a great farewell 

If Nadal came to the French Open for his final tournament, many would root for the Spaniard to win the tournament for the 15th time and go out in the most memorable way. 

While Nadal winning the French Open in his last tournament appearance would be a great story, Roddick thinks that there are some other ways which could also make the Spaniard's Roland Garros farewell being a memorable one. 

"I always kind of thought we were going to have some version of that, maybe not winning but imagine him winning third round at Roland Garros, a tough four-setter, the place falls apart like... I want that for him," Roddick said.

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Meanwhile, Nadal sounded devastated earlier this week when announcing his Monte Carlo withdrawal. In his message, Nadal blamed his body for "not allowing" him to play in Monte Carlo and he described these days as "difficult moments."

But after withdrawing from Monte Carlo, Nadal went to Barcelona, where he has been practicing on their courts for the last couple of days. 

Barcelona starts on Monday and the main focus is on if Nadal will be ready to play.

Andy Roddick Rafael Nadal Roger Federer