Rafael Nadal pulls out of French Open, will likely retire in 2024

Spaniard tennis player announces he is pulling out of tournament due to lingering injury that has sidelined him since January.

FILE - Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts after losing a point during his match against Denis Shapovalov of Canada at the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome, May 12, 2022. Rafael Nadal says that he won’t be able to play at Rome either as he remains hampered by a nagging hip injury. The 22-time Grand Slam winner has been sidelined since January by a left hip flexor injury he picked up at the Australian Open. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, File)
Rafael Nadal will miss the French Open for the first time since making his debut there in 2005 [Alessandra Tarantino/AP Photo]

Rafael Nadal has pulled out of the French Open over a lingering hip injury that has sidelined him since January and announced that next year will be the last of his career.

The Spaniard has won the French Open a record 14 times, including last year, and has never before missed the tournament since his winning debut in 2005.

Nadal, who turns 37 next month, delivered the news of his withdrawal – and future plans – during a news conference at his tennis academy in Manacor, Spain.

He said he does not want to set a date for his return to the tennis tour, but expects it to take months.

“You never know how things will turn out, but my intention is that next year will be my last year,” the 22-time Grand Slam champion added.

Nadal has a career record of 112 wins to just three losses 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.

When Nadal won the trophy last year, while dealing with chronic foot pain, he became the oldest champion in tournament history.

The Spaniard has not competed since he lost to Mackie McDonald in the second round of the Australian Open on January 18. That was Nadal’s earliest Grand Slam exit since 2016.

Nadal’s lengthy absence this year has also seen him drop out of the world’s top 10 for the first time in 18 years.

Nadal’s major injuries

2003: Elbow injury

Nadal injures his elbow in a fall while training and is forced to postpone his French Open debut.

2004: Stress fracture in ankle

Nadal’s French Open debut is delayed yet again after a left ankle fracture forces him to skip most of the clay court season as well as Wimbledon.

2006: Foot injury

Nadal is forced to skip the Australian Open.

2009: Tendonitis in the knees

Nadal suffers his first loss at the French Open to Robin Soderling and reveals he was playing with knee pain for several months due to tendonitis in both knees, which also forces him to miss Wimbledon.

2012: Tendonitis in the knee

After a second-round loss at Wimbledon, Nadal opts not to defend his Olympic title in London due to tendonitis. He eventually sits out the rest of the season, missing the US Open.

2013: Stomach virus

Nadal delays his comeback after skipping the Australian Open due to a stomach virus which he said did not let him practice in the build-up to the year’s first Grand Slam.

2014: Wrist injury, appendix surgery

Nadal is unable to defend his US Open crown due to a wrist injury. He makes a comeback in September but ends his season a month later to undergo surgery for his appendix.

2016: Wrist injury

Nadal withdraws midway through the French Open due to a wrist injury which also forces him to skip Wimbledon. He makes his return at the Rio Olympics where he wins a gold medal in the doubles.

2020: COVID-19 pandemic

Nadal is unable to defend his US Open crown for a second time in his career as he opts not to travel for the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

2021: Foot injury

Nadal skips the Olympics and Wimbledon after consultations with his team in a bid to prolong his career, before ending his season 10 days before the US Open due to a niggling left foot issue that had been troubling him for a year.

2022: Abdominal tear

Nadal reaches the semifinals at Wimbledon but withdraws ahead of his highly anticipated showdown with Nick Kyrgios due to an abdominal strain.

2023: Hip injury

Nadal does not play a single match after his second-round Australian Open exit and misses the entire clay court season due to a hip injury.
He is forced to miss the French Open which he has won a record 14 times in his career, including the 2022 title.

Source: News Agencies