Rafael Nadal - Roland Garros 2024

Rafael Nadal farewell ceremony cancelled after shutting down ‘last Roland Garros’ claims

Rafael Nadal was scheduled to have a farewell ceremony take place at Roland Garros this year, but these plans have since been cancelled after the Spaniard revealed that he is not sure whether it will be his last.

Nadal is set to compete at the Paris major for a 19th time tomorrow, with the 14-time champion taking on fourth seed Alexander Zverev in the first round.

The 37-year-old admitted in press yesterday that it is likely to be his final appearance at the tournament, but could not be sure, “It’s a big, big chance that it’s going to be my last Roland Garros, but if I have to tell you it’s 100% my last Roland-Garros, sorry, but I will not, because I cannot predict what’s going on.”

He continued, “I have been going through a long process of recovery from a very difficult injury, almost two years of suffering, a recovery process that seems like I feel better now.

“I am not a guy that reacts because I lost there, or I lost in the other place. I react about my personal feelings, and my personal feelings are better now than one month and a half ago, without a doubt. So in some way, I don’t want to close the door 100%.”

As a result of Rafael Nadal refusing to rule out competing at Roland Garros in 2025, tournament director Amelie Mauresmo announced that the planned farewell ceremony has been subsequently cancelled.

“As you can imagine, we had something planned for him, but he said [on Saturday] – he told us actually before yesterday – that he doesn’t know if it’s gonna be his last Roland-Garros or not,” said Mauresmo, who has been tournament director since 2021.

“He wants to leave the door open for him maybe to come back next year as a player. So we’re not going to push him to do anything. It’s his decision when he wants to have a proper ceremony or proper goodbye and proper farewell. So we’re not going to do it this year.”

The Frenchwoman concluded, “That’s his wish, even though we’re ready to push the button and something happens, we are obviously going to respect what he wants and make sure we are ready whenever he feels he wants to do it: later this year, next year, anytime he wants.”

Nadal spent nearly a year on the injury sidelines last year after injuring his psoas muscle (abdominal), missing Roland Garros for the first time since 2004 as a result.

After returning at the start of 2024, Nadal suffered another injury setback, but returned to the ATP Tour for clay court events in Barcelona, Madrid and Rome.

These tournaments have seen relatively mixed results for the man often labelled ‘the king of clay’, winning five of his eight matches on the dirt.

Nadal will play a match on Court Philippe-Chatrier for the first time in two years tomorrow, when he takes on the aforementioned Zverev.

Inside the baseline…

When there is so much uncertainty, it is understandable that Rafael Nadal does not want to make any rash statements ahead of his first round match at Roland Garros. That being said, it does leave the tournament and fans in a bit of an awkward situation, as they don’t know whether to treat it as a final match at Roland Garros or not. Whatever the outcome tomorrow, it will not change Nadal’s incredible legacy at the tournament, with the Spaniard winning more titles at a single Grand Slam than anyone in history.

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.