RAFAEL NADAL was forced to pull out of his Wimbledon semi-final with an abdominal tear.

Rafael Nadal has discussed his potential retirement plans as he prepares to return from an abdominal injury that forced him to pull out of Wimbledon. The Spaniard has confessed he’s been close to ending his career multiple times in the past year over his chronic foot injury but is now set to go for a record-extending 23rd Grand Slam title at the US Open.

Rafael Nadal is gearing up for a comeback at the Montreal Masters, before heading to Flushing Meadows in hopes of winning his fifth US Open title. The world No 3 had been bidding for the Calendar Grand Slam at Wimbledon before he picked up a 7mm abdominal tear and was forced to withdraw on the eve of his semi-final, though he has already returned to training this week.

Rafael Nadal

While announcing he was pulling out at the All England Club, the Spaniard revealed that he had considered retirement just weeks earlier. And he has now contemplated his post-tennis plans as he reflected on when his career would come to an end.

“I am sure that one day I will be a former elite athlete,” he told Talent on Board. “But I will always be an athlete because sport is my passion and I will practise it whenever my body allows it.” The 22-time Grand Slam champion also had his sights set on further committing to his Rafa Nadal Academy after he retired, though wasn’t so sure about becoming a coach.

He added: “And I will always be involved with the Academy, which is a project that we started a few years ago and that is getting stronger and stronger. I even hope to spend more time on it than I do now as I continue to compete and travel the world.”

While Nadal knew the academy was home to potential future pros, he didn’t know whether he would be able to become a mentor to one specific player. “In the Academy there are players of all kinds and hopefully some future tennis star is already among us,” he explained.

“I don’t know if I would be the ideal person to train a player… For now I don’t contemplate it, although, as the saying goes, never say I won’t drink this water.” And Nadal was confident that when he and his fellow Big Three stars Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer did retire, there would still be plenty of talent on the tour.

“In tennis there has always been generational change. We have had great stars that have been replaced by others, it is normal. Perhaps in our case what has happened is that we have been here for many years, but I am convinced that those who arrive will stay and take over,” he added.

Andy Murray says he aims to improve his ranking before the US Open so that he can be seeded and avoid facing high-ranked players early in the tournament.

The British former world number one suffered his earliest Wimbledon exit as he lost to American 20th seed John Isner in the second round on Wednesday.

“I was coming into Wimbledon feeling like I could have a deep run,” he said.

“If you play against top guys right at the beginning of the event, obviously it makes it more challenging.”

He added: “I really want to try and improve my ranking to a level where I’m getting seeded in Slams. If not [by] the US Open, then going into the Australian Open next year.”

Three-time Grand Slam champion Murray, currently ranked 52nd in the world, had never failed to reach the third round in 13 previous appearances at Wimbledon, where he is a two-time winner.

There are no ranking points for players at Wimbledon this year, after the ATP and WTA stripped the tournament of its points following its decision to ban players from Russia and Belarus.

“One of the reasons why improving your ranking and trying to get seeded is important is to avoid playing top players and dangerous guys like that early in tournaments,” said the Scot.

“It’s one of those matches that, had I got through, who knows what would have happened.”

Andy Murray

The 35-year-old had hip resurfacing surgery in 2019, while an abdominal injury sustained in the Stuttgart Open earlier in June disrupted his preparations for the grass-court Slam.

Murray said he was “not able to serve for essentially 10 days” following that latest set-back and, when asked whether he would appear again at Wimbledon, added it would depend on his physical condition.

“[If] physically I feel good, then we’ll try to keep playing,” he said.

“It’s extremely difficult with the problems I’ve had with my body in the last few years to make long-term predictions about how I’m going to be even in a few weeks’ time, never mind in a year’s time.

“It’s not easy to keep my body in optimal condition to compete at the highest level.”

On his recent injury, Murray added: “It was frustrating and it didn’t help. I was in a really good place physically and my game was in a good spot.

“I feel disappointed right now. Obviously I wanted to do well here.

“I love playing at Wimbledon, a surface that I feel like I can still compete with the best guys on. It definitely hurts.”