John McEnroe shocks: "I think Rafael Nadal might never play again"

The former American champion spoke out about the injury the Spaniard suffered at the Brisbane International

by Lorenzo Ciotti
John McEnroe shocks: "I think Rafael Nadal might never play again"
© Chris Hyde / Stringer Getty Images Sport

In an interview with ESPN, American tennis legend John McEnroe expressed his opinion on the future of the Spanish champion Rafael Nadal, expressing many doubts about his physical fitness. McEnroe reflected on the importance of the Australian Open for tennis players of this era, decidedly higher than his generation, focusing above all on what the future of the 22-time Slam champion will be.

"I'm not even remotely comparing myself to Rafa, but in my mind the few times I played in Australia it was to prepare for the rest of the year. It was a tough time to be able to put all the chips on the table at the start. Players have now accepted the fact that the Australian Open has become more important than Wimbledon and the US Open. When I played, the best didn't even play. It's been a long road," McEnroe said.

The former North American tennis player then tried to predict Nadal's future: "I think Rafa was hoping something like this: 'I hope to be ready for the French tournament, to see if my body can hold up'. If not, I think he won't play anymore. Obviously we all hope he can do it, because Rafa was extraordinary for the game. We would like to see him for as long as possible."

Nadal© Chris Hyde / Stringer Getty Images Sport

Also the former American tennis player Mary Joe Fernandez talked about the Spanish tennis player, saying she was sure that Nadal will do well in Paris and at the Olympics, if he returns to form.

"It's a real shame for Rafa that he won't be in Melbourne. I was really excited to have him back. I watched some of the games last week and he looked very fit for not having played for a year. He hit the ball very well," said Fernandez.

The three-time Grand Slam finalist then continued: "Injuries are difficult. The game has become so physical that I think for Rafa the focus will be the French tournament and the Olympics. I believe that from a tennis point of view he is optimistic because his level was immediately very high. Now it's about managing his body and seeing if he can be healthy. If he's healthy, then he'll definitely be a contender."

Rafael Nadal's come back

Rafa Nadal had just came back to the court at the Brisbane International after a long and exhausting wait, which lasted almost a year, due to ongoing physical problems, but a further injury compromised his participation in the Australian Open.

The 22-time Slam champion announced his absence from the Australian Major, after the muscle micro-tear suffered in the quarter-finals of the Australian 250 in the match against Jordan Thompson. An unfortunate start to the year to say the least for the 37-year-old Spaniard, who risks missing part of what will be his last season in the Tour. However, the injury does not appear to be serious and Nadal should resume training shortly after the Australian Open.

John Mcenroe Rafael Nadal Brisbane International