Injury has put paid to Rafael Nadal’s hopes of playing at this year’s French Open, ending his dreams of winning a record-extending 15th men’s singles title at Roland Garros.
The 36-year-old has not played since going out to Mackenzie McDonald in the second round of the Australian Open in January because of a hip flexor injury.
Nadal has since dropped to 14th in the ATP rankings, and at a press conference at his academy in Manacor on Thursday he announced he is not fit enough to feature at Roland Garros, where he won a record-extending 14th title last year.
“The evolution of the injury I sustained in Australia has not gone as I would have liked,” Nadal said. “I have lost goals along the way, and Roland Garros becomes impossible.
“At this moment, I won’t be able to be at Roland Garros. With what that tournament is for me, you can imagine how difficult it is. I have no intention of continuing to play for the next few months.
“I’ll not establish a date for my return. I’ll see how my body responds and take it from there… if I can come back until the end of the year for the Davis Cup.”
Nadal revealed his plan is to give his body time to recover and admitted that could take up to three months, which would rule out his participation at Wimbledon this year.
My goal and my ambition is to try and stop and give myself an opportunity to enjoy the next year that will probably be my last year in the professional tour,
The Spaniard also confirmed his desire to retire at the end of 2024 and is aiming to ensure he is fit enough to see out what is likely to be his last year on the ATP Tour.
“My goal and my ambition is to try and stop and give myself an opportunity to enjoy the next year that will probably be my last year in the professional tour,” Nadal said.
“That is my idea but I can’t say 100 per cent it will be like this, but my idea and my motivation is to try to enjoy and say goodbye to all the tournaments that have been important for me.
“To enjoy being competitive and something that today is not possible. I believe if I keep going now, I will not be able to make it happen.”
Nadal has a career record of 112-3 across 18 appearances at the French Open, a level of dominance unmatched by any man or woman at any Grand Slam event in the long annals of a sport that dates to the 1800s. This year’s tournament at Roland Garros starts on Monday, May 22.
In a video posted on social media a month ago, he said: “Initially it had to be a six-to-eight-week recovery period and we are now on 14.
“The reality is that the situation is not what we would have expected. All medical indications have been followed, but somehow the evolution has not been what they initially told us and we find ourselves in a difficult situation.
“The weeks are passing and I had the illusion of being able to play in tournaments that are the most important in my career such as Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, Roland Garros.
“The injury still hasn’t healed and I can’t work out what I need to do to compete. I was training but now we decided to change course a bit, do another treatment and see if things improve to try to get to what comes next.”