Rafael Nadal At French Open 2024: Organizers Cancel Farewell Ceremony For Legend - Why?

French Open tournament director Amelie Mauresmo said that Rafael Nadal informed officials he did not wish to close the door on a comeback, before publicly revealing it at a pre-tournament press conference

Rafael Nadal training, French Open 2024, Roland Garros Twitter
Rafael Nadal trains ahead of his first-round match against Alexander Zverev at French Open 2024. Photo: X/Roland Garros

For most, the ongoing French Open being Rafael Nadal's last one was a foregone conclusion. It was one for the organisers too, who had planned a farewell ceremony for the Spanish tennis legend. But with Nadal refusing to rule out a return to Roland Garros, the French tennis federation has cancelled the ceremony. (Full Coverage | More Tennis News)

French Open tournament director Amelie Mauresmo said on Sunday (May 26) that Nadal informed officials he did not wish to close the door on a comeback, before publicly revealing it at a pre-tournament press conference.

“As you can imagine, we had something planned for him. But ... because he doesn't know if it's going to be his last Roland Garros or not, he wants to leave the door open maybe to come back next year as a player. So we are not going to push him, obviously, to do anything,” Mauresmo said.

“It's his decision when he wants to have a proper ceremony, a proper goodbye, a proper farewell. So we're not going to do it this year. That's his wish," she added. "And even though we were ready to push the button if something happens, we obviously are going to respect what he wants and make sure we are ready whenever he feels he wants to do it. Later this year; next year; anytime he wants.”

The soon-to-turn-38 Nadal will face fourth seed Alexander Zverev in the round of 128 on Monday.

Before the match begins, here are answers to some burning queries regarding Nadal and Zverev.

Why Are Top Players Like Nadal, Zverev Meeting In Round 1?

Though he has won the title a record 14 times at the French Open, Nadal was not seeded and hence could have been placed anywhere in the bracket and been stuck playing anyone at all, even the very best opponents. Due to injuries, including a surgically repaired hip and problematic abdominal muscle, Nadal has competed little the last two seasons, going only 7-4 in 2024, and thus is now outside the top 250.

Why Is Nadal Unseeded?

This is the first time Nadal is competing in a Grand Slam without a seeding since the 2005 Australian Open. The top 32 players in the men's and women's draws are seeded, and the seedings are based on the ATP and WTA rankings, which considers the most recent 52 weeks of results. In theory, Mauresmo could have chosen to circumvent the rules and awarded a seeding to Nadal based on his past performances in Paris.

But the former world number 1 said that was never really considered, in part because “giving protection to some players” would result in “a lot of other issues and problems,” and also because it "has to be OK with other Grand Slams and everything.”

(With AP inputs)