‘Rafael Nadal will eventually retire if he is unable to…’, says former No.1


Reigning Australian Open champion Rafael Nadal trained with fellow southpaw Ben Shelton ahead of the first Major of the season. Only a few could guess that the young American would have a better run than the Spaniard, in fact, a much better one! Nadal suffered a left hip injury in the second round against Mackenzie McDonald and lost in straight sets, not playing well even before the setback. On the other hand, the current NCAA champion slipped into the top eight and played his first Major quarterfinals. With those points, Ben will break into the top-50 on Monday, making him the youngest American in that group. It took Shelton five ATP tournaments to break into the top-50, while Nadal played eight events to find himself there. However, his trajectories could not have been more different. Nadal hardly played junior tournaments, reached the Wimbledon semifinal in 2002 and set his sights on professionalism. Rafa made his ATP debut at home, in Mallorca, in April 2002, and achieved an ATP victory still at 15 years old. An incredible young man claimed six(!) Futures titles that year and raised his level in early 2003 to reach four Challenger finals in the first three months. At 16 he reached the third round in his debut at the Monte Carlo Masters 1000 and repeated in Hamburg and Wimbledon. Without stopping there, Nadal achieved six victories in Bastad, Stuttgart and Umag and slipped into the top 50 after the Challenger title in Segovia at 17 years and two months. At that age, Shelton was still a junior, participating in numerous USTA junior events and having never left the United States. Ben began his college career with the Florida Gators in 2020, working under his father Bryan. Shelton went 28-5 in his freshman season, becoming the team leader and aiming for the ultimate prize in 2022.

McEnroe praises Rafael Nadal

Tennis legend John McEnroe recently weighed in on speculation about Rafael Nadal’s retirement following his 2023 Australian Open exit. “My hope is he goes out when he wants to go out, not when we want him to go out. You are talking about a GOAT – greatest of all time – type of athlete,” McEnroe said. “Rafa, from what I’ve heard, wants to keep playing. You know, he loves the competition, he loves the process, and he loves the sport and we love him for that,” McEnroe said. “But if the body doesn’t hold up and he feels like he can’t get to that type of level health-wise that he needs to, to win majors, then I think he’ll quit,” he added.

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