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Nadal not scared of 'realistic' retirement ahead of 14th Australian Open campaign

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 9 Jan 2019
  • Nadal says he isn't scared of retirement
  • Spaniard knows he's closer to the end of his career than the beginning
  • The 17-time major champion has thought about life after tennis
Rafael Nadal (Photo by ASANKA BRENDON RATNAYAKE/AFP/Getty Images)

Spanish superstar Rafael Nadal concedes retirement has crossed his mind after his latest series of injury problems, however the 17-time major champion still believes he can put together a successful campaign at the upcoming Australian Open in Melbourne.

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After almost two decades of putting his body through the unforgiving trials and tribulations of the professional tennis circuit, Nadal - who will turn 33 in June this year - knows he’s closer to the end of his career than the beginning.

The Spaniard’s relentless style of play has caused a countless number of injuries throughout the course of his illustrious career, including his latest setbacks of knee, ankle and abdominal issues, with Nadal still yet to play a competitive match since September’s U.S. Open semi-finals heading into the Australian Open.

Sensationally, Nadal has completed just one of his last 18 hardcourt tournaments, retiring at the Australian Open and U.S. Open last season and withdrawing from 10 others, while he also missed the last three hardcourt events of the 2017 season and the Brisbane International at the start of this year.

With those numbers in the bank, it’s not surprising that Nadal has thought about the dreaded R-word during the back-end of his career.

Rafael Nadal poses during a Kia Key handover ceremony at Federation Square ahead of the 2019 Australian Open (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
"Life has great things, not only tennis, so it is something that doesn't scare me, to think about that day and that day is realistic," Nadal told AAP.
"The day that I feel that I don't have chances to compete for the things that make me happy will probably be the day to do another thing.
"I am here to try and play a very good tournament in Melbourne and I believe if I have this good week of practice and I am able to have a good start in the tournament, why not? I am playing well (enough to win)."

Elaborating further, Nadal says he has prepared for life after tennis and has the wheels in motion for a productive post-tennis-playing career.

"I prepare my future, of course. I have my tennis academy, a foundation. I have different things around the world that I have to take care (of) in the future and of course I will not be the guy who finished a tennis career and am going to stay at home fishing and playing golf every day.
"Of course I would like to do it more often than the last 20 years probably, but I like the work, the new experiences.
"I am a worker so I like to do those things."

Nadal is lining up for his 14th Australian Open campaign and will be seeded No. 2 when the draw takes place on Thursday night.

The 32-year-old has endured some heartbreaking times in Melbourne since debuting in 2004, missing the 2006 and 2013 editions, finishing runner-up in 2012 in an epic six-hour final against Novak Djokovic (along with two more second-places in 2014, where a back injury surfaced against Stan Wawrinka, and 2017), while he also retired in 2010 against Andy Murray in the quarter-finals and was hindered by a knee injury at the same stage the following year against David Ferrer. Nadal also retired in last year’s tournament in the quarter-finals against Marin Cilic.

Nadal’s lone title in Melbourne came in 2009 when he beat Fernando Verdasco and Roger Federer in back-to-back five-set thrillers in the semi-finals and final.

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Nadal not scared of 'realistic' retirement ahead of 14th Australian Open campaign

Spanish superstar Rafael Nadal concedes retirement has crossed his mind after his latest series of injury problems, however the 17-time major champion still believes he can put together a successful campaign at the upcoming Australian Open in Melbourne.

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