Golf's world number two, Jon Rahm, believes teenage compatriot Carlos Alcaraz can benefit from having Rafael Nadal around as his burgeoning tennis career progresses.

Nineteen-year-old Spaniard Alcaraz became the first tennis player to beat both Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the same tournament on clay, on his way to becoming the youngest ever winner at the Madrid Open earlier in May.

Alcaraz has won three of the past four tournaments he has entered, including the Miami Open, moving to number six in the ATP world rankings and emerging as a serious challenger for the French Open, which starts on Sunday.

When asked about Alcaraz's rapid ascent, Rahm said Alcaraz can still learn a lot from 21-time grand slam winner Nadal.

"I thought you were talking about a golfer. I was just confused," Rahm joked, speaking ahead of this week's US PGA Championship. "I've heard about what he's done, and I've seen the results. Pretty impressive, especially in the world of tennis.

"He's got some big shoes to fill, because historically Spain has had great tennis players, and obviously with Rafa out there it can be probably daunting yet really exciting too for somebody like him.

"You have a great reference who's done it right in front of you, so I'm sure he can pick his brain and learn. He's got a great start. Hopefully he can keep it going and be a great champion like many others have been."

Following a tie for 27th at the Masters, Rahm returned to action earlier in May, winning the Mexico Open.

The lingering dynamic this weekend at Southern Hills will be the fact Phil Mickelson will not be there to defend his title, following his controversial remarks about the Saudi-backed breakaway golf tour.

Rahm and Mickelson share the same alma mater and agency, and the former continued to defend the six-time major winner.

"Phil has got to do what Phil has got to do," Rahm said. "He's a good friend of mine. I can't remember the last time a major champion didn't defend a title.

"But he's got to do what's best for him. That's all I can say. I can't say it makes me unhappy. As long as he's doing what is best for him, I can't truly say I'm unhappy.

"I would have liked to see him defend. I know he's played good here in the past. But again, he's got to do what he's got to do."

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has withdrawn from the French Open, with last year's runner-up in Paris ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.

Russia's world number 21 enjoyed her best grand slam run at Roland Garros 12 months ago, reaching the final before suffering defeat to Barbora Krejcikova. 

The 30-year-old lost in the first round of the singles at the Internazionali d'Italia last week but won the women's doubles alongside Veronika Kudermetova.

However, playing in four matches that went the distance made her realise she needed to take a break for her knee to recover.

Pavlyuchenkova posted on Instagram: "I'm very sad to say that I'm forced to withdraw from Roland Garros and the rest of the tournaments this year!

"I have been playing this in my head for the last week and it has been a really tough decision to make, as Roland Garros was always very special to me, especially after a dream run last year!

"But due to the pain for a long time, now the injury is limiting me physically and mentally to compete and practise fully.

"After rehabbing for months this year and only playing at three events, the last two tournaments showed me that the pain was still there and I wasn't ready, so I have decided to take more time and come back stronger next year!" 

Novak Djokovic became the oldest winner of the Internazionali d'Italia men's singles title in the Open Era as he fended off Stefanos Tsitsipas on the clay in Rome.

The world number one said he played a "perfect set" to race through the opener, before coming from a break down in the second to earn a 6-0 7-6 (7-5) victory in Sunday's final.

Djokovic made it a record-extending 38th Masters 1000 title in what was his 55th final at this level, and it was his sixth triumph at this event in the Italian capital.

At 34 years, 11 months and 23 days old, Djokovic is 10 days older than the previous oldest Rome champion, Rafael Nadal, who took the title last year.

He boosted his head-to-head record to 7-2 against Greek star Tsitsipas, winning their last six matches and all five they have contested on clay, including last year's French Open final where Djokovic came from two sets behind to scoop the grand slam. This victory clearly augurs well for Djokovic's upcoming title defence in Paris.

Djokovic broke serve to love in the opening game, Tsitsipas swatting a volley into the net to hand over the early advantage and set the tone for a wildly one-sided set.

Tsitsipas broke to lead 3-1 in the second set and he served for it at 5-3 but was broken to 15, sending a forehand wide on game point. The tie-break that soon followed was hard fought, with Tsitsipas looping a backhand long on match point as Serbian Djokovic earned the trophy once again.

Reflecting on his fast start, and his first title of 2022, Djokovic said on Amazon Prime: "I pleasantly surprised myself, I can say, even though I had a clear game plan and strategy coming into the match. I knew what to expect from the other side so I knew what I had to do, but I did play a perfect set, no doubt about it.

"After that it was a little bit tight, the beginning of the second for me. He used it, and at this level one or two points can turn a match around and he was back in the game. At 4-1 up for him and 30-40, the match could have easily gone into a third set, but I somehow managed to find the right shots at the right time to come back in the game, and the tie-breaker, I guess I was just an inch better, maybe calmer, and it was a tight tie-break for both of us."

Ahead of the French Open, which gets under way next Sunday, Djokovic is feeling in great shape for his title defence. Having missed the Australian Open in January in a deportation drama, Djokovic will head to Paris as a major rival to teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz.

Should Djokovic triumph at Roland Garros, he would match Nadal's men's record of 21 grand slams.

"I've been building my form in the last couple of weeks and like the previous years I knew that my best shape on clay was usually coming around Rome time," Djokovic said.

"So it couldn't be a better time, coming into Roland Garros with a title at this wonderful tournament. I'm going to Paris with a lot of confidence."

Matteo Berrettini has confirmed he will skip the French Open later this month as he continues to recover from surgery on his right hand.

The Italian has played only six matches since his semi-final loss to Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open in January, undergoing surgery following the Indian Wells Masters.

On Saturday, the 26-year-old confirmed he is making progress but not yet ready to return for the second grand slam of the year.

"My hand is feeling great, and I am working hard to build up my match fitness," Berrettini posted on Instagram.

"My team and I have made the decision that going straight back into five-set matches on clay at Roland Garros would not be sensible, therefore I will delay my comeback to compete in the full grass season.

"Thank you as always for all the support. I can't wait to be back competing."

The world number eight reached the quarter-finals last year in Paris, losing to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in four sets, before losing again in four sets to Djokovic in the Wimbledon final.

Rafael Nadal conceded he is "living with an injury" after suffering his earliest Internazionali d'Italia exit since 2008 against Denis Shapovalov, but still hopes to compete at the French Open later this month.

Record 21-time grand slam winner Nadal fell to a 1-6 7-5 6-2 defeat to Shapovalov in the third round in Rome on Thursday after struggling with a foot injury throughout the match.

The 35-year-old could be seen regularly limping and battling through the pain, but his resistance ultimately wilted as the Canadian surged to victory after winning 12 straight points from 2-2 in the deciding set.

Nadal, speaking after the defeat, detailed the struggles he is having on a day-to-day basis as injury problems continue to hamper him.

"I am not injured. I am living with an injury. My day-by-day is difficult," he told reporters.

"I am trying hard but of course, it's difficult to accept the situation at times. A lot of days I can't practice the proper way.

"It started halfway through the second set and it was unplayable for me. [But] I don't want to take away credit from Denis that he deserves."

Asked about his chances of being fit for the French Open, which starts on Sunday, May 22 at Roland Garros, the Spaniard responded: "[It's] still the goal, in one week and a couple of days. I'll still keep dreaming.

"Maybe in two days, things are better, the things that I have on my foot. It's true that during Roland Garros I'm going to have my doctor with me – that sometimes helps."

Defeat to Shapovalov also meant Nadal will drop to number five in the world rankings, leaving him facing a potential meeting with the top seed in the quarter-finals of the French Open, which he has won a record 13 times.

 

Carlos Alcaraz declared he would be going to the French Open with the title in his sights after the teenage sensation stormed to Madrid Open glory.

The 19-year-old swatted aside a weary Alexander Zverev 6-3 6-1 in an hour and two minutes in Sunday's final.

That followed hard-fought three-set wins for Alcaraz over Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, two of the pillars of men's tennis this century, and it points to a glorious future.

If the present moment seems good, then thoughts are already turning to what remarkable feats Alcaraz might achieve across his career.

He is widely considered a multiple slam winner in waiting, but must first knock off that first major.

The Spanish teenager has won a tour-leading four titles already in 2022, and he said on Tennis TV: "Yes, I think I'm ready to win a grand slam. I think I'm ready to go for it.

"This is a goal for me this year, try to get my first grand slam. I'm going to work for it and let's see what is going to happen at Roland Garros."

The French Open begins on May 22, and Alcaraz will skip the Internazionali d'Italia to ensure he is rested and focused on the tournament in Paris.

He reached the third round last year, but the Alcaraz of 12 months ago was not the winning machine he has become, a powerful striker of the ball who should fear nobody on the French clay.

Alcaraz has become the second-youngest player to win two Masters 1000 titles, after the 18-year-old Nadal in 2005, having added Madrid to his Miami triumph, and is the youngest, also since Nadal, to scoop five ATP Tour titles.

Alcaraz has a perfect record in title matches, becoming the sixth man in the Open Era to win his first five finals at tour level, and he has strung together seven consecutive wins against opponents ranked inside the top 10.

On Monday, he will jump three places to sixth in the ATP rankings, a new career high. Yet the teenager says there is plenty of scope for growing his game, as the likes of the 'Big Three' have shown.

"I think that I have to improve everything still," he said. "I have always said that you can improve everything. You never reach a limit.

"Look at Rafa, Djokovic, [Roger] Federer, all of them improve and they have things to improve. They keep on working and improving.

“That's what I want to do. I want to keep on progressing."

He added, quoted on the ATP official website: "I have really good shots. I don't say that I don't have them, but I know that I can improve them and they can be even better.”

In Madrid, Alcaraz became the youngest player to beat three top-five stars at the same tournament since the ATP Tour launched in 1990, by taking out top-ranked Djokovic, world number three Zverev and Nadal, who sits fourth in the rankings.

He leads the way for wins in the 2022 season as his 10th straight triumph takes him to 28 match victories for the campaign, one more than Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Alexander Zverev slated ATP chiefs after a punishing defeat to Carlos Alcaraz in the Madrid Open final, but described his Spanish conqueror as "the best player in the world" and predicted he would win a stack of grand slam titles.

German star Zverev was fuming over his court scheduling this week, claiming late-night contests meant he came into the title match in no fit state to compete as he described tournament bosses as "an absolute disgrace".

He claimed he had only been able to get to bed at 5.20am after a late-night semi-final victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas on Saturday.

While Zverev had warm words for 19-year-old sensation Alcaraz, he felt he had cause to feel aggrieved at his handling by tennis organisers after his 6-3 6-1 final reverse. 

"I want to congratulate Carlitos," he said in an on-court interview. "Right now, you are the best player in the world. It is great for tennis that we have such a new superstar that is going to win so many grand slams, that is going to be world number one, and I think is going to win this tournament many more times."

Later, in a news conference, Zverev said Alcaraz had been "playing amazing".

"But one thing I have to say is that the ATP's job was an absolute disgrace this week," Zverev said, according to tennismajors.com. "Two days ago I went to bed at 4:00, 4:30am. Yesterday I went to bed at 5:20am. If any normal person goes to bed one night at 4:00am, the next night at 5:00am, it will be a tough time just to be awake for them.

"And for me to play a final against Carlos Alcaraz, who for me is the best player in the world right now, in a Masters 1000 event, the next day, it is difficult."

There is little doubt Alcaraz, who will now skip the Internazionali d'Italia to rest before the French Open, is only going to keep progressing.

After beating Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic this week before overcoming Zverev in the title match, he will leap three places to sixth in the ATP rankings on Monday, having followed up last month's triumph in Miami with his second Masters 1000 title.

"It feels great to be able to beat these players," Alcaraz said. "To beat two of the best players in history and then Zverev, the world number three. 

"I would say this is the best week of my life. I am 19 years old, which I think is the key to be able to play long and tough matches in a row. I am feeling great physically.

"It is a great moment for me. It is the first tournament I watched, so lifting the trophy today is so emotional."

Rafael Nadal remains confident that he will be fully fit in time for this month's French Open, despite still suffering from a "very disabling" rib injury.

The 35-year-old has been sidelined since sustaining a cracked rib during the Indian Wells Masters in March.

However, Nadal confirmed last week he intends to make his return to action on home soil at the Madrid Open next week.

And the Spaniard, who won a record 21st grand slam at the Australian Open in January, expects to be ready for Roland-Garros later this month.

"I have three weeks," he said on Saturday. "I trust that the daily training will help me to get ready.

"Here the demand [in high altitude in Madrid] is maximum, but what can be done is going to be done.

"The most important thing is to be healthy, but I think that going to Paris I'm on time. Three weeks is enough time to get competitive."

He added: "I have trained very little, because the rib is very disabling and also very painful. I had two very bad weeks and afterwards it has been very, very disabling.

"I haven't been able to do practically anything, but it's here, at home, in Madrid."

Thirteen-time French Open winner Nadal will face either Alexander Bublik or Miomir Kecmanovic in the second round of the Madrid Open.

The third seed is on a collision course with highly rated compatriot Carlos Alcaraz in the quarter-finals at the Caja Magica.

Rafael Nadal plans to make his return from injury in his homeland at the Madrid Open next week.

Nadal has been sidelined since suffering a cracked rib during the Indian Wells Masters last month.

The 21-time grand slam champion on Tuesday revealed he has decided to make his ATP Tour comeback at the Caja Magica.

He posted on social media: "Despite preparation being difficult, I really want to play at home since the opportunities are few.

"[I want] To try to do it in the best possible way. See you in Madrid."

Taylor Fritz consigned Nadal, a five-time champion at the Madrid Open, to his first defeat of the year in the final at Indian Wells.

The Australian Open champion was visibly struggling to breath during that match after sustaining the injury during a semi-final victory over fellow Spaniard and heir apparent Carlos Alcaraz. The 35-year-old's 2022 record so far stands at 20-1.

Nadal's return is set to make his comeback just three weeks before he will be hoping to start his bid to win a 14th French Open title at Roland Garros.

Novak Djokovic is "progressing slowly but surely" ahead of the French Open as the world number one took positives from his run to the Serbia Open final.

The Serbian remains without an ATP Tour title this season after losing 6-2 6-7 (4-7) 6-0 to Andrey Rublev on home clay in Belgrade on Sunday.

It has been a disrupted 2022 for Djokovic, having been prevented from playing the Australian Open due to his unvaccinated status, a factor which also meant he was barred from competing in tournaments in the United States last month.

He only made it as far as the quarter-finals of the Dubai Championships in his first tournament of the year in February and suffered a surprise loss to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the last 32 of the Monte Carlo Masters.

Djokovic showed signs of improvement in Serbia, though, as he defeated Laslo Djere, Miomir Kecmanovic and Karen Khachanov en route to reaching the final.

Rublev proved a step too far for Djokovic, who faded badly in the deciding set against an opponent aged 10 years younger, but the 34-year-old is remaining upbeat ahead of next month's French Open.

"Things are progressing slowly but surely," he said. "Paris is the big goal and hopefully by Paris I'll be ready.

"I have to look at the positives – playing the final in front of my home crowd, it was unfortunate that in the third set I ran out of gas and couldn't deliver more of a fight.

"After four three-set battles I can say that I am tired but also pleased that I managed to win the matches prior to this one.

"I think that will serve me for the continuation of the clay-court season."

Djokovic is set to return to action at the Madrid Masters in a little over a week's time, an event he enters as top seed.

Matteo Berrettini could miss the French Open after the world number six was forced to withdraw from three tournaments as he continues to recover from minor hand surgery.

The Italian progressed to the Wimbledon final in 2021 and started the new season in encouraging fashion as he reached the Australian Open semi-finals, where he was well-beaten by eventual winner Rafael Nadal.

However, the 25-year-old has seemingly struggled from then on, with his next best performance coming in Rio – where he made the last eight – as he limped to a 9-6 record so far in 2022.

Further difficulties followed for Berrettini after he sustained an injury to his right hand late in March, forcing him to withdraw from the Miami Open before undergoing a "minor operation".

Berrettini provided another update on Instagram on Thursday, revealing he would not feature at the Monte-Carlo Masters, scheduled to start later this week, or the Madrid Open and Italian Open at the start of May.

The latter tournament in Rome begins just two weeks before the second grand slam of the year, leading to concerns that Berrettini may not feature at Roland Garros.

"UPDATE – following advice from the medical experts, my team and I have decided that it is crucial I do not put time pressure on my recovery process," he posted.

"We have therefore decided I should withdraw from the Monte-Carlo, Madrid and Rome tournaments to ensure I give myself the proper amount of time to return at my highest level.

"Withdrawing from these events, particularly Rome, was an extremely tough decision, however it is the right one to ensure many more years of competing at the highest level for the biggest trophies.

"Thanks very much for all the support. My recovery process is on track and I look forward to seeing you on-court soon."

The 2022 French Open will provide Jo-Wilfried Tsonga with a final opportunity to shine in front of a home crowd after the 36-year-old confirmed his impending retirement.

Tsonga has suffered with injuries over recent seasons and has managed just two ATP Tour match wins so far in 2022.

The Frenchman reached a high ranking of world number five and finished as runner-up at the 2008 Australian Open.

He never won a grand slam but did reach five more major semi-finals. Tsonga has collected 18 singles titles on the ATP Tour, including two Masters 1000 crowns in Paris (2008) and Toronto (2014). His last triumph came in 2019 in Metz.

"It is with great emotion that I announce today my decision to stop my professional career at the next French Open," Tsonga wrote on social media.

"So many incredible moments, so much joy shared with a public that gave me a lot. Hoping for one last thrill with you!"

In a video accompanying his announcement, Tsonga said: "The goal is to be myself, to be Jo-Wilfried Tsonga the tennis player.

"I hope that I will stay in shape before and be able to be who I have always been at this tournament.

"I have always set myself high goals to try to get what I can. For me, this will be the opportunity to do it one last time."

Yannick Noah (69.6 per cent) is the only Frenchman to have a higher winning percentage in tour-level matches than Tsonga (66.5).

Daniil Medvedev has confirmed he will undergo a procedure to fix a troubling hernia issue, which may keep him out of the French Open.

Medvedev, who enjoyed a short-lived stint as world number one at the start of March before relinquishing the crown back to Novak Djokovic, reached the quarter-finals at Roland Garros last year.

However, the chances of the Russian appearing in Paris now seem slim, given he faces up to two months out of action following the impending operation.

This year's French Open runs from May 22 until June 5.

"Hi everyone," the world number two tweeted on Saturday. "The last months I have been playing with a small hernia.

"Together with my team I have decided to have a small procedure done to fix the problem. I will likely be out for the next 1-2 months and will work hard to be back on court soon. Thanks for all the support."

Medvedev had been hoping to use the clay court swing to reclaim top spot in the ATP rankings.

He could have done so had he reached the semi-finals of the Miami Open last week, yet the 26-year-old lost 7-6 (9-7) 6-3 in the quarters to Hubert Hurkacz.

Medvedev appeared to be struggling in that tie and after the defeat he told reporters: "All the match I was not feeling my best. But, you know, sometimes it happens.

"I don't know the actual reason. Maybe the heat. But I was feeling super, like, dizzy, tired, and there was this long game where I couldn't serve anymore.

"Then in the locker room I was cramping quite much, so physically was not easy. But at the same time, that's part of the game."

Should Medvedev fail to return in time to make the season's second grand slam, the reigning US Open champion will hope to be fully firing by the time Wimbledon comes around in late June.

You don't know what you've got until it's gone.

That is how tennis fans the world over will be feeling after women's world number one Ash Barty shockingly announced her retirement on Wednesday.

Barty noted that achieving a lifelong goal of winning Wimbledon last year and being "spent physically" were motivating factors behind her decision.

The 25-year-old bows out on top having lifted her home slam at the Australian Open back in January, and is a three-time singles major champion.

Following news of her retirement, Stats Perform has delved into some of Barty's best facts from a stellar career.

SECOND ONLY TO OSAKA IN SLAMS SINCE 2016

There have been 14 different singles grand slam champions in a stacked women's game since 2016.

In that time, Barty has women three major titles – the second most alongside Angelique Kerber. Indeed, the only player to have more in the women's game over that period is Naomi Osaka with four.

Barty retires on a 13-match winning streak (all on hard courts), a run that of course includes her triumph at the Australian Open.

It matches the best run of her career, with Barty proving 13 is not unlucky for all by racking up the same amount of wins on clay and grass between May and June 2019 – that stretch having seen her lift her first slam at the French Open.

KVITOVA A FAMILIAR FOE

Barty has mixed it with the best in the women's game but she has faced no player more than two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.

She has faced the Czech on 10 occasions, with the two sharing five wins apiece. Barty has also beaten Sofia Kenin, Karolina Pliskova, Shelby Rogers and Kiki Bertens on five occasions.

Caroline Wozniacki (3) and Mona Barthel (2) are the only players Barty has faced more than once but never beaten in women's tennis.

Conversely, Barty has defeated each of Marketa Vondrousova, Camila Giorgi, and Saisai Zheng four times from as many attempts, her most matches against any players against whom she has maintained a 100 per cent win rate.

STILL GOING STRONG

Never has the saying "always leave them wanting more" been truer than in the case of Barty.

She has averaged seven aces per match in women's tennis in 2022, the joint-most of any player alongside China's Qinwen Zheng and Hailey Baptiste of the United States.

Barty has made 77 aces in total in 2022, the joint-sixth most of any player but 30 fewer than WTA leader Madison Keys (107).

Moreover, she has won 94 per cent of service games, the highest rate of any player and eight percentage points higher than second-ranked Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan.

Barty won 71 per cent of her points when serving this calendar year, the highest rate of any player and four percentage points higher than second-most Rybakina.

Indeed, Barty did not lose a match in her shortened 2022 season, finishing 11-0 and winning 25 of her final 26 matches. 

114 WEEKS AND OUT

Barty is the second female player to step away from the game when ranked world number one, with Justin Henin having done so in 2008 after 61 consecutive weeks at the top.

Barty does so having racked up 114 straight weeks at the summit of the rankings, a run which represents the fourth longest in the history of the WTA Tour behind only Steffi Graf (186 weeks), Serena Williams (186) and Martina Navratilova (156).

Her accumulated total of 121 weeks represents the seventh highest of all time. Barty finishes her career with 15 singles titles in total and 12 in doubles, while she ends with a 305-102 win-loss singles record, and 200-64 in doubles.

Ash Barty stunned the sporting world on Wednesday by announcing her retirement from tennis, bowing out as the top-ranked player in the women's game.

The popular 25-year-old has not featured since winning her home grand slam at the Australian Open in January, becoming the first female Aussie singles champion of the tournament since Chris O'Neil in 1978.

Announcing the news on her Instagram page, Barty cited achieving a lifelong goal of winning Wimbledon last year as a primary factor behind her decision as well as being "spent physically".

But Barty is by no means the first sporting hero to retire at the top of their game. Below we take a look at some other examples of those who have exited as champions.

ALAIN PROST

The 1993 Formula One season was largely dominated by one man – Williams driver Alain Prost. The Frenchman had to battle hard with the iconic Ayrton Senna at the start of the campaign, with them each taking three wins from the first six races of the season. However, a run of four straight victories for Prost were followed by a string of retirements for Senna, ensuring a fourth world title that provided the ideal ending to a glittering career.

ALEX FERGUSON

One of the most successful managers in world football, Alex Ferguson began a 27-year stint at Manchester United after an excellent spell at Aberdeen. The Scot won 28 major trophies at Old Trafford, including 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups and two Champions Leagues. His final trophy came with top-flight glory in 2012-13, and 17 days later he brought the curtain down.

PEYTON MANNING

Considered one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, Peyton Manning won his first Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts in 2007 and, after an injury-blighted season that raised doubts about his ability aged 39, he added a second with the Denver Broncos in 2016, bowing out on the ultimate high.

RICHIE MCCAW, DAN CARTER

New Zealand became the first nation to successfully defend the Rugby World Cup trophy by beating Australia 34-17 in the final at Twickenham in 2015, adding to their success on home soil four years prior. It proved the end of the line for captain Richie McCaw, who was at the time the most capped player in rugby union with 148 appearances for the All Blacks, as well as mercurial fly-half Dan Carter. Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith and Kevin Mealamu were also among an influential contingent that opted to end their international careers.

PETE SAMPRAS

In defeating Andre Agassi in the final of the 2002 US Open, the same opponent he overcame to win his first grand slam 12 years prior, Pete Sampras secured his place among the greats in men's tennis. It was a then-record 14th major singles title for a male player for the American, a milestone that has since been surpassed by Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, but he did not compete again and announced his retirement almost one year later.

PHILIPP LAHM, MIROSLAV KLOSE

At 31 you still have a number of years ahead of you in football. However, after lifting the World Cup trophy with Germany in 2014, Philipp Lahm decided to call time on his international career and focus on club football with Bayern Munich. The versatile full-back made 113 appearances for his country and was joined by fellow centurions Per Mertesacker and Miroslav Klose – whose tally of 71 international strikes is a German record – in switching focus to domestic matters.

MARION BARTOLI

A first grand slam at Wimbledon in 2013 appeared to be the breakthrough moment for a 28-year-old Marion Bartoli, but reality proved very different. The Frenchwoman defeated Sabine Lisicki – who had overcome pre-tournament favourites Serena Williams and Agnieszka Radwanska – in the All England Club final, but announced her retirement during the Western and Southern Open just 40 days later due to persistent injuries. She attempted a comeback in 2018 but continued setbacks and injuries curtailed those plans.

NICO ROSBERG

Nico Rosberg had engaged in several intense battles with Lewis Hamilton before finally getting the better of his Mercedes team-mate to become Formula One world champion in the 2016 season. Still only 31, Rosberg had potentially several more years in F1 but the German instead opted to depart having reached the pinnacle of his sport.

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