Nadal pulls out of French Open, set to end career in 2024



Rafael Nadal on Thursday withdrew from the French Open because his hip injury has not healed and said he expects 2024 to be his final year in professional tennis.

“It’s not a decision I’m taking, it’s a decision my body is taking,” said the 36-year-old Spanish player, who has played at the claycourt major every year since 2005 and won it 14 times.

Nadal said he was taking a few months off, without training, meaning he will also definitely miss Wimbledon and most likely the US Open, before starting to play again.

And he said next year would bring down the curtain on a career that has so far produced 22 Grand Slam singles titles.

“It’s probably going to be my last year on the professional tour, I can’t say this 100 percent because you never know what’s going to happen,” he told a news conference.

“The injury I suffered in Australia has not healed as we hoped. “Roland Garros became impossible. I will not be there after many years, with everything that (tournament) means to me.”

Nadal said he will not set a date for his return, but said the Davis Cup in November could be a potential target.

The Spaniard said it was important to step away from the game in order to come back next year and say goodbye by playing at his favourite events.

“If I keep playing in this moment, I don’t think I can make next year,” said Nadal. “My idea and mo-tivation is to try to enjoy and try to say goodbye to all the tournaments that have been important to me.”

Nadal is hopeful that by taking a complete break, his body can recover. “I will stop, I won’t train, it’s been months of frustration — there’s a moment that one has to put the brakes on,” he explained.

“It’s time to see if the body can regenerate itself over these months.” Nadal said he would keep an eye on this year’s French Open and was philosophical about not being able to defend his title at the tournament he has dominated at.

“Roland Garros will always be Roland Garros, with or without me, it will keep being the best event,” added Nadal.

“There will be a Roland Garros champion and it won’t be me, and that’s life.” The French Open or-ganisers tweeted: “We can’t imagine how hard this decision was.” The tournament added: “Hoping to see you next year in Paris.”

Troubled recovery –

Former world number one Nadal has not played since the Australian Open in January where he picked up a hip injury in a shock second round loss to Mackenzie McDonald of the United States.

He was expected to recover inside six weeks, comfortably in time to launch an assault on a record-extending 15th title at Roland Garros.

However, with his 37th birthday little over two weeks away and having skipped Masters events in Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome, Nadal is stepping away to try and find fitness.

After a career plagued by knee, wrist and foot injuries in particular, the alarm bells have been ring-ing ever louder over the last year.

Nadal’s undefeated start to 2022, which saw him pick up a second Australian Open title, ended with a chest injury at Indian Wells.

He swept to a 14th French Open in June but only after revealing he had required daily pain-killing injections in his foot. Weeks later, his dream of a third Wimbledon title ended in a semi-final withdrawal due to an abdominal strain.—AFP