Rafael Nadal: 'Big chance' it's last French Open, but no guarantees

Rafael Nadal said there's "a big chance" this is his last French Open, but he will need time after the tournament to make that decision.

"It's a big, big chance that going to be my last Roland Garros, but if I have to tell you it's 100% my last Roland Garros, sorry, but I will not, because I cannot predict what's going on," he said Saturday on the eve of the tournament.

Nadal, a record 14-time French Open champion, plays No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev in the first round on Monday.

Nadal is unseeded at a Grand Slam for the first time since the 2005 Australian Open because he has missed most of the last year and a half due to injuries.

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"I have been going through a long process of recovery with a very difficult injury, almost two years of suffering, a recovering process that seems like I feel better now," he said.

Being unseeded meant the 37-year-old Nadal faced the possibility of drawing a seeded player in the first round.

He drew Zverev, the Tokyo Olympic gold medalist who earlier this month won the Italian Open, the last top-level ATP Tour event before the French Open.

Nadal missed last year’s French Open with a left hip flexor injury and underwent surgery last June. In announcing his withdrawal before last year’s French Open, Nadal said that he will likely retire in the second half of 2024.

In more recent comments, Nadal has not ruled out playing beyond 2024. At his last tournament in Rome earlier this month, he said he was “98%" sure it was his last time playing that annual event.

"I probably will say (this) is the first week since I come back playing tennis that I am able to run the proper way without having a lot of limitations," he said Saturday. "That encourages me."

Nadal has played 15 matches since the start of 2023. He went 5-3 over three clay-court tournaments this spring building up to the French Open.

Nadal is trying to avoid losing back-to-back matches on clay for the first time since he made his ATP Tour match debut in April 2002, according to Tennis Abstract.

"In some way I don't want to close 100% the door (on playing another French Open), because a very simple thing," he said. "First thing, I am enjoying playing tennis. Second thing, I am traveling with the family. They are enjoying. I am enjoying sharing all this process with them. And third thing, I was not able to explore yet the proper way how I will be able to play being in again more or less healthy conditions, playing without limitation. So give me some time. Maybe in one month and a half I say, OK, it's enough, I can't keep going, but today in some way I cannot guarantee that that's going to be the last one. But of course it's a big chance."

French Open Tennis Tournament. Roland-Garros 2024.
French Open Tennis Tournament. Roland-Garros 2024.

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