Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from Roland Garros, he announced on Thursday at the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar. The 14-time champion will not play in the season’s second major for the first time since his tournament debut in 2005. The 22-time major winner added that he will stop for an undetermined length of time and that 2024 is “probably” going to be his last year on the professional tour.
“I was even working as much as possible every single day for the last four months. It has been very difficult months because we were not able to find the solution to the problem that I had in Australia,” Nadal said. “Today I’m still in a position that I am not able to feel myself ready to compete at the standards that I need to be [at] to play a Roland Garros. I am not the guy that is going to be at Roland Garros and just try to be there and put myself in a position that I don’t like to be [in].”
Nadal: ‘I Don’t Think I Deserve To End Like This’
The 36-year-old has not competed since January at the Australian Open, where he suffered an injury to the iliopsoas muscle in his left leg. Nadal and his team were expecting a recovery period of six to eight weeks, but the lefty has not returned to action.
The Spaniard was happy with his on-court results, like when last year he won the Australian Open and Roland Garros. But he “was not able to enjoy [his] daily work” because of his physical problems.
“Since after the pandemic, my body was not able to hold the practices and to hold the daily work in a good way. So I was not able to enjoy the practices and the competition because [there were] too many problems, too many times having to stop for physical issues and too many days of going here practising but with with too much pain,” Nadal said. “So after I said that I need to stop. I need to stop for a while. So my decision is to stop. I don’t know when I’m going to be able to come back to the practice court, but I’m going to stop for a while. Maybe two months, maybe one month and a half, maybe three months, maybe four months.
“I don’t know, I am not the guy who likes to predict a lot the future, so I’m just following my my personal feelings and just following what I really believe is the right thing to do for for my body and for my personal happiness now.”
Muchísimo ánimo Rafa! ❤️ Muy doloroso y triste para todos que no puedas estar en Roland Garros ni jugar más este año, pero deseando que 2024 sea una gran temporada para ti y puedas despedirte como el gran campeón que eres! 🤝🏻 @RafaelNadal pic.twitter.com/KIfVSnRRS7
— Carlos Alcaraz (@carlosalcaraz) May 18, 2023
Nadal added that he is stopping to give himself an opportunity to enjoy 2024, which he said will “probably” be his last as a professional tennis player.
“I can’t say 100 per cent that [it is] going to be like this because you never know what can happen. But my idea and my motivation is [to] try to enjoy and try to say goodbye [to] all the tournaments that have been important for me in my tennis career during [next] year and just try to enjoy that that, being competitive and enjoying being on court,” Nadal said. “[That is] something that today is not possible. I really believe that if I keep going now, I will not be able to make that happen. I don’t know if I stop if I will be able to make that happen, but I think the chances are much higher if I stop.”
In addition to his record 14 trophies at Roland Garros, Nadal owns a 112-3 record across 18 career appearances at the major (one mid-tournament withdrawal). His 112 match wins and his 97.4 per cent win rate both stand alone as records, as does his perfect 14-0 mark in finals.
“Right now, my thoughts go out to Rafa, as I can only imagine the pain and sadness he must be feeling after having to make such a hard decision. It’s heart-breaking.” Amélie Mauresmo
🗣️ https://t.co/EOiMFTGzSl pic.twitter.com/VE4bHJlaDa
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) May 18, 2023
“Of course [in] the tournament [there are] going to be super interesting matches that I will be happy to follow and my speech [is not] going to change now [from] a couple of years ago when Novak didn’t play in Australia,” Nadal said. “Tournaments stay forever. Players play and leave, so Roland Garros will be always Roland Garros with or without me, without a doubt.
“The tournament is going to keep being the the best event in the world of clay and there is going to be one Roland Garros champion. It’s not going to be me, [there is] going to be another one and that’s life.”
Last year in Paris, Nadal defeated Casper Ruud in a three-set championship match to win a record-breaking 22nd Grand Slam singles title — a mark Novak Djokovic has since equalled.