roger federer rafael nadal
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have won 31 Grand Slam titles between them getty

Former French tennis player Henri Leconte believes that tennis will not be able to recover from the absence of legends Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer once the two retire.

Leconte, who was primarily successful in the doubles format, won the French Open in 1984. He claimed tennis needs the Swiss maestro and the king of clay to play at a high level, insisting that theirs is a modern rivalry that can never be matched.

"It's never easy to come back at a high level after not having played for such a long time like it happened with Federer. Hopefully Federer and Nadal can come back because we need them. You have to realise one thing, when these guys retire, what will happen to tennis?," Leconte said, according to to

Federer and Nadal have been active on the ATP professional circuit for more than a decade and have won a combined 31 Grand Slam titles between them. The two have faced off 34 times so far, including in 21 tournament finals. The Spaniard holds a 23-11 advantage winning five of their last six encounters.

The sport has seen the emergence of Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray at the top. Besides, there are promising youngsters like Alexander Zverev, Nick Kyrgios and Milos Raonic. But the absence of Federer and Nadal will affect the game.

"Tennis is growing in terms of numbers, earnings and media coverage. This has happened for two main reasons, new technologies involving media coverage and tennis facilities and the advent of Federer and Nadal, who changed modern tennis, marking an epoch and a rivalry that can never be compared."

Federer and Nadal though are not going anywhere for the moment, confirming that they do not have plans to retire in the immediate future.