John McEnroe believes Rafael Nadal will retire from tennis if he is not fit for the French Open in May after injury ruled him out of the Australian Open.
Nadal picked up a new injury in just his third match back from almost 12 months on the sidelines in the latest blow for the Spanish legend.
That saw the 22-time Grand Slam champion withdraw from the first major tournament of 2024 at Melbourne Park.
Nadal had been hoping to use this season as a farewell to the sport before he hangs up his racket and has spoken openly about retirement several times.
The 37-year-old wanted to call time at the end of the year but has since admitted that he may not be fit enough to make it through the next 12 months.
News of his latest injury has resulted in fresh rumours that Nadal may soon announce his retirement and McEnroe feels that if the Spaniard is not ready to play Roland-Garros in May – where he has enjoyed most of his career success – then he will decide to stop playing altogether.
‘I’m not even remotely comparing myself to Rafa, but in my mind the few times I played Australia was to sort of get ready for the rest of the year,’ McEnroe told ESPN.
‘The timing was tough to seemingly to be able to put all the chips on the table early on.
‘Players have now accepted that the Australian Open has gotten closer in importance with Wimbledon and the US [Open]. When I was playing, the top guys didn’t even play. It’s come a long way.
‘I think Rafa was hoping, ‘hopefully I’ll be ready for the French, see if my body holds up there’ – if it doesn’t, I think you’ll see him not play anymore. We’re all obviously hopeful he can because Rafa has been amazing for the game. We’d like to see him as long as we can.’