Nadal suffered his first and only Grand Slam defeat of the year to Tiafoe on Monday as the American earned the biggest win of his career to oust the second seed 6-4 4-6 6-4 6-3 in the US Open fourth round. While the 22nd seed produced an impressive performance, Nadal was also noticeably not at his best and after the match admitted that it could be a while before he played again.
“I need to go back [home], fix things and I don’t know when I’m going to come back. When I feel ready mentally to compete again… I will do it,” he said in his post-match press conference. With the Laver Cup just 17 days away it means the Spaniard could deny the chance of a Big Four reunion if he withdraws and leaves Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray to find a replacement for Team Europe.
Former world No 1 Jim Courier has now weighed in on the 36-year-old’s comments and admitted that Nadal would have a moral dilemma on his hands, with Federer to be the potential deciding factor on whether he takes a lengthy break from competition. “Well look, there’s a few things to ponder,” the American told Amazon Prime Video, first addressing Nadal’s off-court worries before turning his attention to the Laver Cup.
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He continued: “We know that his wife is expecting for their first child so he’s got that I’m sure on his mind and there are reports that the pregnancy is not as smooth as one would hope. Things might be turning better for them so we have our fingers crossed will go smoothly until the welcome the birth of their first child. And we know he’s had some physical issues and time away to let his body rest is probably the best thing for him.”
And Courier admitted that there was a lot of pressure on Nadal’s appearance at the Laver Cup with the Big Four nearing the ends of their respective careers. “Of course we’re anxious to see him play in London at The O2 at the Laver Cup. It might be the last chance to see the Big Four on the same stage together while they’re still active, with Federer making his return,” he added.
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“Nadal is slated to play there, of course a lot of anticipation he might play doubles with Roger.” Courier thought the best plan of action for Nadal was clear – taking some time off before returning at the end of the season – but admitted that the desire to see Nadal and Federer team up at the Laver Cup could outweigh the benefits of a lengthy break.
“We’d love to see that but first he’s got to make sure things are right on the family front and then he’s got to make sure they’re right on the body front,” he explained. “And if you take out the desire to see him at Laver Cup, honestly I think the best course of action for Nadal is to put the rackets down for a while, maybe come back and play Paris Indoors and the Tour Finals. A couple just to stay in touch with his game and get ready for his title defence in the Australia Open assuming everything goes well.”