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Rafael Nadal Says He Is ‘Close to Retirement,’ Talks Roger Federer Stepping Back from Professional Tennis

Nadal spoke at a press conference ahead of his "The Netflix Slam" match against Carlos Alcaraz in Las Vegas Sunday

<p>Borja B. Hojas/Getty; Craig Barritt/Getty</p>

Borja B. Hojas/Getty; Craig Barritt/Getty

Rafael Nadal is sharing the impact of Roger Federer's 2022 retirement and giving a little insight into when he might hang up his own racket.

Speaking during a press conference for The Netflix Slam in Las Vegas on Saturday the tennis legend, 37, said he had an "emotional" reaction to his longtime rival’s exit from the game as he talked about the impact it had on him.

“I got emotional because an important part of my professional life left,” the tennis great said. “At the end of the day with Roger, we shared our most important moments in our tennis careers probably playing against each other.”

Throughout their celebrated careers, the two men played each other 40 times competitively, and many of those matches were for Grand Slam titles. Naturally, they developed a relationship and fondness for one another. In fact, Nadal was one of the first people outside Federer’s family and team to learn about his retirement.

However, the former said on Saturday that his tennis peer's exit from the professional game wasn't a catalyst for any thoughts of stepping back from the game himself, though he explained that moment might not be too far away.

<p>Chris Unger/Getty </p> Rafael Nadal speaks onstage during The Netflix Slam media availability event at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on March 02, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Chris Unger/Getty

Rafael Nadal speaks onstage during The Netflix Slam media availability event at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on March 02, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“First of all [I was] emotional because probably the most elegant player that I ever seen left the tour. Second, as I said before, a part of my life left with him, but that thought never pushed me to any retirement,” Nadal said.

“What put me in a position to be close to retirement is my body more than anything else because in my mind is healthy in terms of passion for what I'm doing.”

Related: Rafael Nadal Concedes Novak Djokovic Is ‘the Best’ Tennis Player of All Time: ‘There Is Nothing to Discuss’

On Sunday, Nadal will do what he loves, as he faces off against fellow countryman and phenom Carlos Alcaraz in The Netflix Slam, a live exhibition match at Las Vegas’s Mandalay Bay.

After that match, the French Open awaits.

“The main thing for me is stay more or less healthy. If that happens, then we can analyze in what position in terms of level I am,” he said of the tournament on Saturday during a press conference with reporters.

Nadal’s dominance on the legendary red clay court can’t be understated, as 14 of his 22 major wins came at Roland-Garros.

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“I need at least to spend more time on the tour, at least to practice with the professional players and even if not playing many official matches, play practice matches,” he said on Saturday.

Related: All About Rafael Nadal's Son

While tennis continues to be at the forefront of Nadal’s mind, so too does fatherhood. In October 2022, the tennis great and his wife, Mery "Xisxa" Perelló, welcomed their first child, a son named Rafael Nadal Jr.

“Everything is 100% new for both of us, for my wife and me,” he said of raising a child. "So you learn everyday things and everyday is unexpected… I'm enjoying a lot this part of my life.”

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