NOT PLAYING: Nadal to miss Wimbledon and Olympics
Image credit - PA Steve Paston
Rafael Nadal has announced he will not be playing at Wimbledon or the Olympics this summer in order to protect his body.
The 35-year-old, who won the last of his two titles at the All England Club in 2010, revealed the news on his Twitter feed.
He wrote: “Hi all, I have decided not to participate at this year’s Championships at Wimbledon and the Olympic Games in Tokyo. It’s never an easy decision to take but after listening to my body and discuss it with my team I understand that it is the right decision.”
Nadal has always found the transition from clay to grass tough on his body and, with only two weeks between the French Open and Wimbledon this year, there is less time to adjust.
The Spaniard was clearly struggling physically towards the end of his brutal loss to Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals at Roland Garros and was notably vague about his schedule afterwards.
Nadal, who will be replaced as third seed at Wimbledon by Stefanos Tsitsipas, missed the Championships in 2004, 2009 and 2016 because of injury and will no doubt see the US Open as a better chance to win a 21st grand slam title.
He has lifted the trophy in New York on four occasions, including in 2017 and 2019.
The Spaniard continued: “The goal is to prolong my career and continue to do what makes me happy, that is to compete at the highest level and keep fighting for those professional and personal goals at the maximum level of competition.
“The fact that there has only been two weeks between RG (Roland Garros) and Wimbledon, didn’t make it easier on my body to recuperate after the always demanding clay court season.
“They have been two months of great effort and the decision I take is focused looking at the mid and long term.”
Nadal is a double Olympic champion having won gold in singles in Beijing in 2008 and in doubles with Marc Lopez in Rio in 2016, when he also carried Spain’s flag in the opening ceremony.
“I want to send a special message to my fans around the world, to those in the United Kingdom and Japan in particular,” he said.
“The Olympic Games always meant a lot and they were always a priority as a sportsperson, I found the spirit that every sportsperson in the world wants to live.
"I personally had the chance to live three of them and had the honour to be the flag bearer for my country.”
"It's a shame" - Murray on Nadal missing Wimbledon and the Olympics
Andy Murray cited the strict coronavirus-related restrictions at Wimbledon and the Olympics as potentially off-putting for players, saying: “Obviously it’s a shame, shame for him, shame for the tournaments.
“This year is hard. With the bubbles and everything, you need to be right into it and be prepared to go through that. I don’t know if he has any physical issues either. He obviously looked like he had some issues at the end of the match with Novak potentially.
“I think hopefully when things open up again – over in the States it’s looking like we will be playing in front of full crowds, and maybe the bubbles and stuff are not going to be as strict – and I’m sure more of the players will be more committed to more tournaments.”
World number five Dominic Thiem also confirmed that he will not be competing in the Olympics, believing he would not be at his best.
Thiem posted on Twitter: “Hi everybody, I have some sad news to share with you all. After talking with my team and analysing the situation I have taken the very difficult decision to withdraw from competing in the Tokyo Olympics.
“For me, like all athletes, taking part in the Olympics and representing my country is a huge honour and that makes this decision even tougher. However, 2021 did not start as expected and I don’t feel ready to play my best in Tokyo.
“These last two weeks I have been training hard – and I’m starting to improve my conditioning and concentration little by little. My goal is to work hard the coming weeks, give my best at Wimbledon and keep training and hopefully defend my US Open title.
“I wish the entire Austrian team traveling to Tokyo all the best. I am young and I hope to be able to play for Austria at the Olympics in Paris 2024. See you all soon, Domi.”
Wimbledon will be played in front of capacity crowds after the government confirmed they would allow it earlier this month.
Nadal missing both the Olympics and Wimbledon will be sad news for tennis fans across the world.
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