‘An important part of my life is leaving too,’ says emotional Rafael Nadal at the end of his first press conference since his retirement last week. ‘I want to make it clear now that I will retire from tennis for the rest of my life, which is what I want to do,’ he says.
And, as his father, Francesco, says, he is ‘happy’ with it. He has been telling people he will retire for a while, but as he said on the eve of the French Open, ‘I can’t do it until my body starts to get a little tired. So, I am just waiting for that day.’
The Spaniard, 32, announced he would hang up his gloves at the US Open. Then he told the media, over the weekend, that he would return to the court and fight to win his eighth Australian Open title.
The top seed is seeking a seventh Roland Garros title. On Saturday, in the final, he will again face the world No1, Roger Federer, and again he will have the chance to equal Bjorn Borg’s record of eight titles.
‘I can’t say no to those titles. I’m sure that even if I get to number eight or nine, I’ll be very happy,’ he says as Federer takes the opening game. ‘I’m just sorry that the French crowd will be disappointed. They had everything I could possibly wish for. I hope they will stay focused and I will give them their best effort. They were outstanding today.’
Asked what he wanted to do for the rest of his life, Nadal says, ‘I want to make it clear now that I will retire from tennis for the rest of my life, which is what I want to do. I also want to say that I will be working towards becoming a sportsman and I will take on whatever challenges that come along.’
He says he has written his autobiography, which is out soon, and is waiting for a publisher to pick up the work. Asked to say more about his goals or about his tennis career, Nadal says simply, ‘I’m happy.’
With his brother, the American Bernard, he would have been in New York