Emotional Rafael Nadal’s speech in full after potential French Open farewell

Nadal speaks to the crowd after his straight-sets defeat  (Getty Images)
Nadal speaks to the crowd after his straight-sets defeat (Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal said he did not know if he had played his last match at the French Open but revealed appearing at the Olympic Games at Roland Garros this summer is “motivation” to continue his career after defeat to Alexander Zverev.

The 14-time French Open champion, who turns 38 next week, said there is a “big percentage” his defeat to fourth seed Alexander Zverev was his last match at the tournament he has dominated for almost 20 years.

Nadal was handed a brutal first-round match with Zverev one of the contenders for the title after winning in Rome last week, and the 27-year-old became just the third player, after Novak Djokovic and Robin Soderling, to beat Nadal in his 116 matches at the French Open,

In an emotional on-court interview after the defeat, Nadal said he was given hope by his performance, but said it was “difficult” to talk about his future.

Nadal spoke in front of a packed Court Philippe-Chatrier, the scene of Nadal’s 14 French Open titles, and addressed a crowd that included wife Xisca, baby son Rafael Jr and fellow tennis stars Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz.

Here’s Nadal’s post-match speech in full

"It is difficult for me to talk, I don’t know if it’s the last time I’ll be here in front of all of you. Honestly, I am not 100 per cent sure.

“If it is the last time, then you, the crowd, have been amazing. Today the feelings I have are difficult to describe in words. For me, it is so special to feel the love in the place I love the most.

"I have to congratulate Sasha for this great match and last week, victory in Rome. I really wish you all the best in this tournament. 2022 [when Zverev broke his ankle in his semi-final defeat to Nadal at the French Open] was a tough moment for you and you deserve more, so all the best.

"For me, as I said before, I have been going through a very tough two years in terms of injuries. I went all through these processes with the dream to be back here in Roland Garros. It is true that the first round wasn’t the ideal one. I needed something else! I was competitive, I had chances but it was difficult against a great player as Sasha.

"It’s difficult for me to say about the future. There is a big percentage I won’t be back at Roland Garros but I can’t say 100 per cent. I am enjoying myself, I am travelling with my family and I am having fun. The body is feeling better than it did two months ago.

“Maybe, in two months, I say it’s enough, I can’t give anything else. But that is something I don’t feel yet. I have goals. I hope to be back here for the Olympics, that motivates me. That’s going to be another chance and I really hope to be well prepared.

"The amount of feelings I had on this amazing court throughout my career, it’s just unbelievable. When I was a kid I couldn’t imagine being here at almost 38 with all of the success. Winning so many times, I couldn’t dream about it.

Nadal’s wife Xisca and baby son, Rafael Jr, were in attendance in Paris (REUTERS)
Nadal’s wife Xisca and baby son, Rafael Jr, were in attendance in Paris (REUTERS)

“It has been a very beautiful process. All the memories are very special. All the people who are in Roland Garros behind the scenes helping me since I came here, and the support of my people. I can’t thank them all enough.

“Last thing, all the people, the feelings you made me feel here are unforgettable, thank you very much from the bottom of my heart. I really hope to see you again, but I don’t know. Merci beaucoup.”

Rafael Nadal set to miss Wimbledon: ‘I don’t think it’s a good idea’

Rafael Nadal is set to miss Wimbledon next month and may never play at the All England Club again as retirement looms, writes Kieran Jackson. The 37-year-old has won two Wimbledon titles amongst his collection of 22 Grand Slams.

Nadal insists he will compete at Roland Garros again as he targets the Paris Olympics in two months’ time and, as a result, put his presence on the grass at Wimbledon into serious doubt.

Asked whether he thinks he will play on grass and at Wimbledon, he said: “[It] looks difficult, honestly.

“For me now, it looks difficult to make the transition to grass when we have the Olympics again on clay.

“I cannot confirm anything, I need to analyse so many facts. I don’t think it’s going to be smart after all the things that happen to my body, to make a transition to a completely different surface, then come back to clay.

“Today I don’t think that’s a good idea, I don’t think it’s a positive idea right now.”