German tennis legend Boris Becker thinks that Rafael Nadal could be well on the road to retirement. Becker saw the Spaniard’s Australian Open exit as a sign that his time could soon be up.

Nadal was troubled by injury during his straight sets loss to world No.65 Mackenzie McDonald in the second round on Wednesday. The Mallorcan won the tournament last year, but he won’t be adding to his record total of 22 Grand Slams this time around.

“We’ve been talking about the change of generation for a long time, and then Nadal comes along last year and wins not only in Melbourne but also Paris,” Becker said on Eurosport Germany’s Matchball Becker show.

“The question was: Will he play until he’s 40? I don’t think so. Yesterday was already the first step towards his retirement.

“An injury like that is hard, and at this age, it takes even longer to get back into shape. I hope and pray that he will get well soon and that we will see him looking fresh again in Paris at the latest, but I think his days are numbered.”

A sports legend

Becker believes that Nadal‘s legacy goes beyond tennis and that he has made a vital contribution to sport. Despite thinking he will have to consider retirement soon, he still thinks he will win this year’s French Open.

“He is not only a tennis legend, he is a sports legend. He is one of the most important sportsmen of the last 25 years. He has changed tennis and made it even more popular in his home country of Spain,” said Becker.

“He can become the president if he wants to. I think there would be a big gap if Rafa doesn’t play anymore, but I think he will pick up a racquet again.

“The clay court season will be his priority. If he is fit, he is still my favourite for the French Open, but even Rafael Nadal gets older eventually.”

Nadal, for his part, is tired of being asked about his retirement, insisting that he had “come here to play” when asked repeatedly in Australia. He now faces six to eight weeks on the sidelines but should be back in time for the clay court season.