The World No 1 Rafael Nadal has pulled out of this month’s US Open, his fourth major tournament in succession, and will not play again until the end of 2021 after sustaining an injury to his left foot.
Tennis’s star player (@RafaelNadal) Sorry to say that I will not be able to participate in the US Open. I’ve met with team of doctors and umpires, who did all they could.
A report on the tennis website Tennis Channel said that Nadal sustained the injury to his right big toe during a match in Doha in February and a further injury in Mallorca the following month.
Nadal had won 22 consecutive matches since losing to Dominic Thiem in the final of the Monte Carlo Masters on the way to winning the Rome Masters earlier this month but the Spaniard decided to pull out of the first Grand Slam of the year.
Nadal posted a lengthy message on Instagram saying: “I’ve met with the team of doctors and umpires who did all they could. Unfortunately, I cannot come this year and stay at home in Spain. My feet are far away from the hard courts. I won’t be in New York for the rest of this year. From the sidelines, I will try to be as strong as possible and be in New York in 2019. I want to make the main thing clear that I can compete at the level of the greatest players of the time, and I can do it.”
The 31-year-old Nadal pulled out of the tournament in New York a year ago and retired from the Australian Open in January after just six games against the eventual winner, Marin Cilic.
Nadal is the only player in the world’s top 20 who has never won the US Open, the sport’s last major, losing seven finals, and he missed last year’s event through injury. The most he has achieved in New York is the one Grand Slam singles title, won in 2010 at Wimbledon.
A statement from US Open tournament organisers said: “US Open officials were saddened to learn this morning that Rafael Nadal will not compete in the US Open. On the night before the tournament began, Nadal said in a statement: ‘I’ve met with the team of doctors and umpires, who did all they could. Unfortunately, I cannot come this year and stay at home in Spain. My feet are far away from the hard courts. I won’t be in New York for the rest of this year. From the sidelines, I will try to be as strong as possible and be in New York in 2019. I want to make the main thing clear that I can compete at the level of the greatest players of the time, and I can do it.’”
It added: “Our fans and the players in the draw can rest assured they will be covered and the US Open is, once again, strong and financially well-positioned to stage an exceptional tournament this year.”
Nadal has not won a Grand Slam title since the French Open in 2014 and this is his seventh withdrawal from a grand slam event in the past 11 months, including Wimbledon, the US Open and the Australian Open.
The 17-time major winner won his ninth title of the year in Rome and has not lost in a grass court final since losing to Roger Federer in 2012.
He is desperate to win a record-extending 11th French Open title later this month and the 34-year-old Federer has said he is “more likely than not” to return to the top of the rankings he lost last November.
But Nadal’s chief rival remains Novak Djokovic, who at 28 is currently ranked second in the world. He is on course to win the Wimbledon and French Open double for the third time in his career.
“The season goes one way or another,” Nadal told La Stampa. “What is happening is not good, but I cannot give you explanations. We will see what happens after the US Open.”