Former ATP greats discuss whether Rafael Nadal will play French Open again

Rafael Nadal played well but lost in the first round of the 2024 French Open.
Will Rafael Nadal play at the French Open again?
Will Rafael Nadal play at the French Open again? / Jean Catuffe/GettyImages

Many likely did not expect Rafael Nadal to beat Alexander Zverev in the first round of the 2024 French Open. Of all the players Nadal could have drawn in his first match, Zverev was probably the worst matchup. Zverev is the ATP No. 4, and he is an excellent clay-court player. Many, however, likely did not think Nadal will play as well as he did against Zverev.

Sure, Zverev won the match in straight sets, and Nadal might have tired late in the third round, but the Spaniard also made some incredible shots. The kind of shots that tennis fans have probably not seen from Nadal in two years. He consistently pushed the German on his service games and made life difficult.

In other words, the final score of 6-3 7-6(5) 6-3 was misleading. The match could have easily gone four sets. Nearly every game was tight, and Nadal proved he could still play at a high level. He even repeated in his post-match on-court interview that he is not quite certain he won't be back at Roland Garros in 2025.

Tim Henman, Mats Wilander, and Alex Corretja weigh in on Rafael Nadal's 2025 French Open chances

Some fans might think he should just retire, but a vast majority of those fans might not have seen the Nadal-Zverev match. The Spaniard would have beaten most players on Monday. If healthy, he would still be a threat next year to win the Grand Slam that he has won 14 times previously.

Former ATP top-ten players Mats Wilander, Alex Corretja, and Tim Henman have all weighed in on whether they believe Nadal should try to return next year. All have given various reasons for what they think, but unanimously, all three believe Nadal should be back.

Corretja told Eurosport in a segment following Nadal's loss to Zverev, "I spoke to (Nadal) a week ago, and he said to me it’s the first time I’ve been practicing here at Roland Garros that I feel no pain. He said he felt so good on the court and that his tennis is growing and doesn’t see any reason why he can’t come back at least one more time."

Wilander, a seven-time Grand Slam winner and former ATP No. 1, agreed and said, "Obviously, the Olympics are huge, and for him to have the chance to play here on Phillipe Chatrier is amazing and could be an unbelievable end to his career. But I agree with Alex, he’s too competitive, he’s playing too good. I think he beats 90 percent of the draw today. There’s only a few guys that would beat him playing this well."

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Henman added, "That mental strength, mental fortitude is one the strongest attributes in all of sport and to see him out there playing with that passion and belief is so special for everyone to see. I’d love to see him back out there because Rafa Nadal can still do some damage."

The decision to return to the French Open in 2025 is ultimately Nadal's, of course. The reception he received from the crowd at Roland Garros that had just watched him lose was one of the fans believing they would never see Nadal at the French Open again. Maybe they will get another chance next year.

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