“Era of Winning May Be Over”: Tennis Legend Reflects on Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer’s 2021 Season Withdrawal

Published 08/25/2021, 12:30 PM EDT
Roger Federer of Switzerland shakes hands with Rafael Nadal of Spain after defeating him in the Men’s Singles Semi Final at The Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championship at the All England Lawn and Tennis Club at Wimbledon on in London, England. (Photo by Simon Bruty/Anychance/Getty Images)


Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are two irreplaceable names in sport, not just tennis history. However, given their injury-forced withdrawal from the 2021 season, many believe the end of the era is near. But not Mats Wilander.

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The seven-time Grand Slam champion argued that Federer and Nadal might never win a major tournament again. But, he emphasized that their era of filling in crowds is pretty much “still alive.”

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Mats Wilander on Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer’s future

Rafael Nadal ended his 2021 season citing a persistent foot injury, whereas Roger Federer withdrew as he plans to undergo a third surgery on his knee. Hence, it is likely that their comeback might not be as grand as fans would hope.

In light of this, the now-retired Swedish professional first discussed the Spaniard and his beloved French Open. “I don’t think it’s the end of an era,” Wilander said.

“It might be the end of winning Grand Slam tournaments, but with Rafa and Roland-Garros and the love affair he has over there, you can never say it is the end of that relationship until the day he has hung his rackets on the wall.”

Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – June 9, 2021 Spain’s Rafael Nadal reacts during his quarter final match against Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Afterwards, Wilander spoke about the Swiss maestro and his heart, Wimbledon. “There’s still a love story that is to be had, and he can still do well there,” he said.

However, he agreed that each passing year, their chances of winning a major tournament are diminishing. And in response, the former World No.1 provided a perspective of their era.

“The era of winning may be over, but the era of filling stands with fans is still alive. There’s a couple more years of it,” Wilander concluded. Most importantly, despite their major setback, Nadal and Federer are hopeful about their return.

Watch this story: Tennis Rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer’s Top Funny Moments

Grand Slam race between Nadal, Federer, and Djokovic

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Currently, the big three – Nadal, Federer, and Djokovic, are tied at 20 Grand Slams each. But with the Spaniard and the Swiss absent at the US Open 2021, the Serbian has a big chance to take the lead.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia, Rafael Nadal of Spain and Roger Federer of Switzerlan wait to go on stage during the ATP Heritage Celebration at The Waldorf=Astoria on in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Also, considering Wilander’s theory, Djokovic will end up as the male player with the Most Grand Slam titles. Even then, tennis fans will remember Federer and Nadal as the two ultimate greats of the sport.

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Do you think Federer or Nadal can win one more Slam?

Also Read: Why Has No One Been Able to Defend the US Open Title Since Roger Federer?

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Purav Joshi

1118 articles

Purav Joshi is a Tennis author at EssentiallySports. Having a degree in Films, Television and Media Production, he guided his passion for writing and journalism into the sport of aces and rallies. With over 2 years of experience as a copywriter, Purav has authored over 500 tennis articles.

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