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Can Rafael Nadal retire from tennis on a high? Laura Robson hopes he gets send off he wants

Rafael Nadal will hope to retire from tennis on a high with Laura Robson hoping he gets the send off he deserves later this year; Watch Nadal in action against Alex De Minaur at the Madrid Open not before 3pm BST on Saturday, exclusively live on Sky Sports Tennis

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates winning match point against Darwin Blanch of USA on Day Two during their 1st Round match of the Mutua Madrid Open at La Caja Magica on April 25, 2024 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Image: Rafael Nadal will want to retire from tennis on an ultimate high

Can the legendary Rafael Nadal retire from tennis on an ultimate high? Laura Robson hopes the 22-time Grand Slam champion gets the send off that he wants.

The 37-year-old Spaniard, who has said he expects to retire after the 2024 season, returned to competition in Brisbane in January after almost a year sidelined with a hip flexor injury.

He was then out for another stretch due to a thigh issue and while he skipped Monte-Carlo before returning in Barcelona last week he says he is far from being in top form and does not know if he will play in next month's French Open.

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Watch Rafael Nadal's top five Madrid Open shots throughout his career so far!

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Nadal admits his body won't allow him to give 100 per cent every game, as the 14-time French Open winner targets another appearance at Roland Garros in June

Nadal beat wild card Darwin Blanch 6-1 6-0 in the first round of the Madrid Open on Thursday, with his wife and one-year-old son Rafael Jr watching on.

The Spaniard looked in good form and showed no physical limitations in just his third competitive match since returning from his latest injury layoff.

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However, having lost in the second round of Barcelona to Alex De Minaur, the Australian will also be his second-round opponent in Madrid on Saturday - not before 3pm BST - live on Sky Sports Tennis.

Struggling with injury and currently ranked 644th in the world, Nadal said he will only compete at Roland Garros next month if he feels physically able.

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He has won the French Open 14 times and would likely be making his final appearance in a tournament he has made his own in recent years.

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Watch highlights of the Madrid Open match between Nadal and 16-year-old Darwin Blanch

"I try to play at my 100 per cent, but I can't give my 100 per cent every day," said Nadal after his win against 16-year-old Blanch.

"The thing is before, most of the time, I was able to give my 100 per cent of the 100 per cent. Today I'm able to give my 100 per cent of sometimes 40 per cent, sometimes 60 per cent, sometimes 70 per cent, and if I am able to raise this percentage day after day or week after week, why not in the future what can happen? If not, it's impossible."

Will Nadal get the send off that he wants?

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Nadal feels he won't play in the French Open if he feels like he does at the start of the Madrid Open

Sky Sports' tennis analyst Robson says Nadal has been somewhat unlucky with injuries, but he will only take part in tournaments if he knows he has a chance of winning them.

"I feel really bad for him because it seems like there is just one issue after the other and it happens to everyone when you start coming back from such a long time off. His original hip flexor injury that saw him unable to compete for a year and that might be fine now but then he's picked up the back issue and the knee problem," explained Robson.

"It feels non-stop for him at the moment. He's won Monte-Carlo 11 times so he's probably thinking, 'I'm not going to play in this tournament unless I know that I can win it'.

"Nadal has previously stated that he wants to retire after the 2024 season and you really hope that he is going to get the send off that he wants because he's travelled to a lot of tournaments, almost competed in them and then had to pull out in the last moment."

When could Nadal end his professional career?

Team Europe's Roger Federer, right, and Rafael Nadal react during their Laver Cup doubles match against Team World's Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe at the O2 arena in London, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Image: Nadal could be set for a Laver Cup send off in the presence of the great Roger Federer

With the Olympics in Paris also on his agenda, Nadal could be poised for a Laver Cup swansong in Berlin after accepting Bjorn Borg's invitation to play for Team Europe in September.

Nadal and Roger Federer famously teamed up in the doubles at the 2022 Laver Cup in London for the Swiss great's last match before retirement, so wouldn't it be ironic should the great Spaniard play his last match in the presence of tennis greatness.

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Highlights of the Barcelona Open second round as Alex de Minaur defeated Nadal

What's coming up on Sky Sports Tennis?

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Find out all the ways to watch tennis on Sky Sports, including the US Open, ATP and WTA tours

In the run-up to the second Grand Slam of 2024 - the French Open at Roland Garros from May 26 - you can watch all of the biggest tennis stars in action live on Sky Sports as they compete across the clay-court season.

  • Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome (ATP and WTA Masters 1000) - May 7-19
  • Geneva Open (ATP 250) - May 20-26
  • Lyon Open (ATP 250) - May 20-26
  • Internationaux de Strasbourg (WTA 500 with Emma Raducanu in action) - May 20-26
  • Morocco Open (WTA 250) - May 20-26

How to watch play on Sky Sports Tennis

The stars of tennis will appear on the new Sky Sports Tennis channel every day
Image: The stars of tennis will appear on the new Sky Sports Tennis channel every day

Sky Sports has confirmed a new home for tennis in the UK and Ireland, with Sky Sports Tennis on Sky and NOW, making tennis content available all day, every day for fans.

Sky Sports will broadcast more live tennis than anywhere else, bringing over 4,000 matches from more than 80 tournaments a year on the ATP and WTA Tours, as well as full coverage of the US Open, all exclusively live.

Non-Sky subscribers can stream live matches with a NOW Sports Day and Month Membership, via Sky Sports Tennis, Sky Sports Arena, and Sky Sports Mix channels.

For further access, fans will also be able to follow their favourite players and gain deeper insights from both Tours via Sky Sports News, the Sky Sports app, on and via Sky Sports social channels.

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