Tennis Is 'So Much Better' With Nadal In It Says Tennis Legend Connors

Tennis Is 'So Much Better' With Nadal In It Says Tennis Legend Connors

by Nurein Ahmed

Tennis icon Jimmy Connors believes the sport is in a better place with Rafael Nadal still playing on amid fears the Spaniard will retire before the end of the season.

Nadal has given every possible hint that he won't play beyond the current year despite trying his best to remain tight-lipped about his long-term ambitions. Having been perturbed by two hip injuries since the start of 2023, he has featured sporadically on the main tour.

When Nadal injured his flexor muscle at last year's Australian Open, he spent the next month completing surgery and rehabbing. He also missed the French Open for the first time in his career since his debut in 2005.

Upon his return to action in January at the Brisbane International, the 37-year-old succumbed to another hip injury, which was less severe, and only missed a couple of months from the tour.

Nadal marked his comeback in Barcelona during the European clay swing, playing for one last time. He followed his farewell tour by playing in Madrid in the past two weeks, where he reached the round of 16 before bowing out to Jiri Lehecka.

Connors, who retired from the sport at the age of 43, recently gave his insight on Nadal's impending retirement on his Advantage Connors podcast. The 71-year-old American compared the 22-time Grand Slam champion to an old mayor and lavished praise for his on-court demeanor.

"Listen, the game's better with him in it. So much better. He creates so many talking points. Whether it's talking [about] that he's too old, he's not what it used to be, this is like the old mayor."

"The way he always approached his matches and went out there, he was all business. And the attitude that he had and the grit and the grind, never let a ball. Run down everything. You know, [he would] kill himself. And leave his DNA out there. And he's loved plenty of that all around the world, so."

Although Connors sympathized with the Spanish lefty, he added that Nadal would be at peace with his decision once he leaves the spotlight for good because of so many engagements after tennis.

"Ultimately, it's his decision (to retire). And eventually, we all get it. Everybody gets it, and then you have so many other things to do the rest of your life that you just fold into that."


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