Rafael Nadal admits that his body could implode at any time as the Spanish great dropped more retirement hints at the French Open.
The 35-year-old drew on all his battling qualities to see off Felix Auger-Aliassime in a terrific five-set match on Sunday to book a quarter-final showdown with old foe Novak Djokovic at Roland-Garros.
However his preparation for the clay-court Grand Slam was interrupted due to his chronic foot problem, with Nadal suggesting his days at the top are numbered.
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“I am in the quarter finals of Roland-Garros,” Nadal told a press conference following his win over Auger-Aliassime. “I am just enjoying the fact I am here for one more year.
“Being honest, every match that I play here I do not know if it will be the last match here in Roland-Garros in my tennis career. That is my situation now.
“I went through a tough process again with my foot. I do not know what will happen in the near future with my career, so I am just trying to enjoy and fight as much as I can to keep living the dream.
“I hope to give myself a chance to play at the highest level possible and then let’s see.”
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Nadal moved ahead of Djokovic and Roger Federer at the top of the men’s all-time charts with his 21st Slam at the Australian Open in January despite his injury torment.
He had not played a competitive tournament in five months prior to touching down in Melbourne and said he had doubts “every single day” about whether he would ever play again.
In the Eurosport studio, Chris Evert said she felt Nadal’s career is drawing to close.
“He is sounding weary,” Evert said. “There is so much more that comes with being a professional tennis player than playing a match, but he sounded tired.
“The respect I have for him because he is 35 years old and he can keep getting psyched up every single day for these matches.”
Evert, an 18-time major winner, added: “I started burning out in my early 30s. When I woke up in the morning I didn’t have anything in me, so I don’t know where he gets this passion and fire in his belly from.
“I am sure with the injury, I don’t want to say he is falling apart, but you get a little more affected by the playing and training.
“It is going to happen, whether it is next year, two years, three years. I would not give him more than two or three years to play tennis.”
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