Holder Rafa Nadal will miss the French Open after failing to regain full fitness from a hip injury suffered at the Australian Open in January, the 14-times Roland Garros winner said on Thursday, adding 2024 could be the final year of his career.
Nadal, who has dominated the clay court season for years, has competed at Roland Garros every year since claiming the first of his men’s joint-record 22 major titles in Paris in 2005.
“I’ll look to be 100% ready for next year, which I believe will be the last year of my professional career,” Nadal, 36, told reporters at a press conference.
“The evolution of the injury I sustained in Australia has not gone as I would have liked. I have lost goals along the way, and Roland Garros becomes impossible.” Nadal said he needs to stop playing for the foreseeable future to make a full recovery and return for what he anticipates will be his farewell season. “I’ll not establish a date for my return. I’ll see how my body responds and take it from there,” he said.
“If I keep playing at this moment, I don’t think I can be there next year. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to come back in the highest level and compete for Grand Slams. What I will try to do is to give myself the opportunity to go back to what could be my final year competing at the highest level.”
The French Open runs from May 28 to June 11. French Open organisers said on Twitter: “We can’t imagine how hard this decision was. We’ll definitely miss you at this year’s Roland-Garros.
Take care of yourself to come back stronger on court. Hoping to see you next year in Paris.”
Nadal overcame a niggling foot injury to beat Casper Ruud in last year’s final.
But he has struggled with his latest issue and has not competed since January after hurting his hip flexor in his second-round match against Mackenzie McDonald that effectively ended his Melbourne Park title defence.
Nadal was initially set to miss up to eight weeks but skipped clay court tournaments in Rome and Madrid to build his fitness after being ruled out of events at Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo and Barcelona earlier this season.
A setback in his recovery ahead of the Madrid Open and his subsequent withdrawal from the Italian Open had left him facing the prospect of going to Paris without any competitive matches in the build-up to his favourite Grand Slam. In March, Nadal fell out of the top 10 in the world rankings for the first time since 2005 and is currently 14th.
Nadal’s 14 French Open titles are the most by any player at a single major.
He boasts a stunning 112-3 record in Paris and is widely regarded as the ‘King of Clay’. “With what that tournament is for me, you can imagine how difficult it is,” Nadal said.
“I need to put a stop to my sporting career for a while. I will try to regenerate my body during these months. “I went through some very difficult years and I think it’s time to take better care of my body, I have suffered a lot with injuries… What will happen next year I don’t know. “Roland Garros will always be Roland Garros with or without me … there will be a new champion and I’m sure the tournament will be a big success.”
Original Story by www.sabcnews.com
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