Thursday, 18 May 2023, 17:43
Rafael Nadal will not defend his tennis title at Roland Garros next week and plans to retire at the end of the 2024 season.
The 22-time grand slam champion is aiming to be back on the court later in the year ahead of the US Open as he takes the next few months to focus on his health.
The 36-year-old made the announcement at a press conference today (Thursday 18 May) and said he did not want to take any more risks with his body. Nadal has been nursing a left hip injury since the start of the year after losing in the second round of the Australian Open in January.
Nadal has been forced to withdraw from Doha, Dubai, Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, and now Roland Garros, a tournament he has won 14 times in his extraordinary career.
"Despite having noticed an improvement in recent days, it has been many months without having been able to train at a high level and the process of readaptation has its times and I have no choice but to accept them and continue working,” Nadal said a fortnight ago on 5 May while announcing his withdrawal from the Rome Masters.
His absence will have serious consequences in the Spaniard’s ranking, who will be unable to defend the 2,000 points from last year and will drop out of the world’s top 130.
To be able to obtain a protected ranking, Nadal would need to go six months without competing, which would take him to July. If he comes back before then he will need invitations from each event to compete.
If Nadal’s recovery goes well, he could play the North American clay-court swing and compete at the Cincinnati and Canada Masters 1000 ahead of the US Open in August. Nadal also pointed to the Davis Cup to be played in November in Malaga as a possible return to the circuit.
"I believe that I do not deserve to finish like this, I have worked very hard so that my end is of another way and I am going to work hard for it," he said. "I would like to face next year with guarantees of being able to do what I can and I think it will be my last year."
Nadal is equal with Serbian Novak Djokovic with 22 Grand Slam titles.
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