Rafael Nadal retirement hint dropped by Carla Suaraz Navarro

Nadal has a chance encounter with Serena Williams in June

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Rafael Nadal is ‘in his last years’ according to fellow Spanish tennis player Carla Suarez Navarro – but the 34-year-old suggested her country was lucky to have Carlos Alcaraz coming through to replace him. Navarro retired from the sport herself in 2021 after taking part in a six-month farewell tour following a successful battle against cancer. 

Nadal has been in excellent form over the course of 2022, winning the Australian Open before following it up with his customary success in Roland Garros. His two Grand Slam victories meant he became the most successful men’s tennis player of all time with 22 major titles, one clear of Novak Djokovic and two ahead of Roger Federer. 

However, injuries have also had an effect with an abdominal tear forcing him to pull out of Wimbledon before his semi-final with Nick Kyrgios. Speculation over his retirement has continued to grow, particularly after he became a father and his good friend Federer announced he would be quitting the sport. 

Fellow Spaniard Alcaraz looks to be in pole position to take his mantle, especially after his win at the US Open in September, which made him the youngest ATP-ranked world No 1 in men’s tennis history. 

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Now, Navarro has suggested Nadal could be near retirement – but has taken heart from the fact Alcaraz is there to replace him. 

“Yes, totally,” she told AS when asked if she was relieved to see the success of Alcaraz. “Perhaps he (Alcaraz) can be a replacement, because, obviously, Rafa continues, but we are in his last years. Time passes for everyone and he has been subjected to a lot of demand. Physically, he is no longer what he was, although mentally he will always surprise us. 

“Young players are coming and it is lucky that we have Carlitos, we should enjoy him and I think he will give us a lot of success in the future.” 

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Navarro also argued that Alcaraz was the best young talent she has ever seen, describing him as a complete player mentally and physically. 

“Yes, probably, he is a very complete player at his age,” she said when asked if he was the best young player ever. “It is true that the players have a lot of room for improvement at 18 and 19 years old, Alcaraz does too, but he is very, very complete. And, when I say very complete, I mean on a tennis, physical and mental level. 

“What I would highlight is his mental strength. At his age, he has saved match points in several of his titles. He is also very important to the team around him.” 

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