Tennis 2023: Rafael Nadal quashes retirement question, United Cup, Cam Norrie loss

Rafael Nadal has had enough of the questions over his future in the sport, hitting out a questions over whether this could be the end of the road for the legend.

One-third of tennis’ Big Three alongside the now-retired Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, the 36-year-old 22-time grand slam champion has the most major titles to his name.

But regular injuries and now the retirement of Federer have piled on the pressure for Nadal to follow suit.

Similar questions don’t plague Djokovic, even though he is only just less than a year younger than Nadal.

Coming into the summer as the defending Australian Open champion, Nadal lost his first match of the United Cup against young Brit Cam Norrie

Nadal, who was also below-par at the season-ending ATP Finals in November, crashed to the 14th-ranked Norrie 3-6 6-3 6-4 in the mixed-teams tournament in Sydney.

While it only reignited talk it may be the last time we see him in Australia, Nadal was having none of it.

“No, I mean, when arrive the day that is go out on the court and say, that’s getting hard, is the day to say goodbye,” Nadal said.

“I don’t want to and I don’t need to keep playing for no one reason. The only reason that I make sense to keep playing if I really enjoy what I do, and I really feel it.

“If I don’t feel it, I mean, I did much more than what I ever dreamed.

“But either way for me, I lost my match, that’s it, no?

“Every time that I am coming to a press conference it seems that I have to retire.

“So, you are very, very interested in my retirement. I mean, that, for the moment, is not the case.

“When this day arrives, I’m gonna let you know guys. Don’t keep going with the retirement (questions) because I’m going to keep playing tennis.”

Part of the reason for the speculation is from Nadal himself who said in July he was “close to” calling an end to his career after his 14th French Open title before revealing he’d changed his mind.

His personal life has also seen changes after he became a father for the first time last October.

Mery “Xisca” Perello with baby Rafael naming an appearance at the United Cup.

However, it was a tough afternoon for Nadal.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion struggled with his first serve, getting just 58 per cent in, which ultimately cost him a first defeat to Norrie in their fifth meeting.

“It’s pretty crazy, I never won a set before (against him) so firstly I wanted to do that and I had to stay super patient,” Norrie said after the near three hour clash.

“It was a super physical match and huge to get through that and finally beat him. He’s beaten me easy the last few times.”

There was little to separate them in the opening games, with a first break point in game six for Nadal, but Norrie saved with a half-volley.

Nadal’s relentless pressure earned him a second and this time the Spanish world number two converted with a searing crosscourt forehand before methodically closing out the set in 52 minutes.

But his poor first-serve was an issue and he was broken to go 4-2 behind in the second set. He saved two set points but Norrie nailed a third on his serve to level at one set-all.

Nadal fired consecutive double faults to open set three and while he recovered to hold, his serve once more deserted him in the fifth game when he was broken and the 36-year-old couldn’t find a way back.

Spain were down 2-0 to Great Britain after the first day while Nadal is scheduled to play mixed doubles alongside Paula Badosa.

— with AFP

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