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Rafa targets Rio for retirement

TENNIS: Wimbledon-Nadal vs Bellucci

Susan Mullane-US PRESSWIRE

Susan Mullane-US PRESSWIRE

Rafael Nadal’s career may now have a countdown.

The oft-injured Beijing gold medalist, who missed the London Games and U.S. Open while recovering from a torn tendon in his left knee, told Sky News Australia that he’s not sure when he’ll return, but he’s targeting or – maybe better said – hoping the Rio Games will be his career finale. He was also particularly disappointed to miss out on the honor of carrying Spain’s flag into Olympic stadium.

“I was very, very down for a couple of weeks,” he said. “To miss a grand slam is hard but it doesn’t come about every four years. I hope with all my heart to be at the Rio Games. That’s one of my goals.”

Nadal, who will be 30 in Rio, has won eleven grand slam tournaments, including a record seven French Opens, and has won at least one major every year since 2005. He’s also one of only two men in history – along with Andre Aggasi – to throw in a gold medal and complete the coveted Golden Slam.

But the legendary player has missed a handful of tournaments in his career, and performed poorly in others, because of different nagging injuries. He’s unlikely to let up on his aggressive style of sliding and diving his way to victory, so it’s appropriate to question whether or not his body can hold up another four years.

Let the countdown begin.