Rafa Nadal has left the tennis world devastated after taking to social media to announce he will miss his home tournament at the Madrid Masters next month, in a brutal blow for the 22-time grand slam champion's French Open hopes. The 36-year-old Spaniard has not played since losing in the second round of the Australian Open in January, as he struggles to recover from a hip injury that has left fans fearing for the 36-year-old's future.
Nadal is hoping for a record-extending 15th French Open title at Roland Garros in May, but the hip flexor problem he suffered in Melbourne has badly disrupted his preparation for the clay court grand slam. He pulled out of hard-court tournaments at Indian Wells and Miami, with his sights set on a return at the start of the clay-court season, but it did not come to fruition.
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The Spaniard has also been forced to withdraw from recent clay court tournaments in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, with his omission from the Madrid Masters the latest brutal blow for the 36-year-old. Nadal shared the news in a heartbreaking update on social media, where he explained that his recovery from the injury simply hadn't progressed how his medical team had hoped.
"For the moment I've missed Monte Carlo and Barcelona. And unfortunately I won't be able to be in Madrid either," Nadal said on Instagram. "The injury still hasn't healed.
The 22-time grand slam champion - he shares the men's record with Novak Djokovic - had originally thought he would be out for up to two months. However, Nadal says despite following all the mediccal advice from his team, he's no closer to knowing when exactly he will be able to make a competitive return to tennis.
"In principle it was supposed to be a recovery period of six to eight weeks and now we're around 14," Nadal added. "The reality is that the situation is not what we would have hoped for. All medical indications have been followed, but the healing has not gone as they told us initially and we find ourselves in a difficult situation."
The brutal revelation means time is fast running out for Nadal to prove his fitness and get in adequate preparation for the French Open, which begins on May 28. Nadal's latest announcement has rocked the tennis world, with many fans fearing it could ultimately lead to his retirement.
I think Nadal should think of retirement, may be RG 2023 or this year end he should retire
— abdul rahim (@AbdulArarahim) April 20, 2023
Who else have a feeling Rafa Nadal is going to retire from competitive tennis soon?
Sad to see him withdraw from Madrid open, hopefully he gives us one last dance on clay at Roland garros. 🙂
— Majeed (@Abdul_Alhassan_) April 20, 2023
@hmeisler Rafael Nadal says he may miss French Open after recovery setback. That would be very sad.
— andrew bekoff (@abekoff) April 20, 2023
— Janani (@njan85) April 20, 2023
Honestly sad to hear Rafa has to pull out of Madrid!
It's his home Masters event & I know he'd be gutted to miss it. As a tennis fan u want the best players in the world playing their best & Djokovic has always said Nadal is his greatest rival so wishing Nadal a speedy recovery! https://t.co/vMLfZ88Qbp
— Reggie🐺🐊 (@Reggie61823972) April 20, 2023
Nadal will miss Madrid. I really Wonder if he should just retire
— Anna... Dub a D 🇧🇦🇷🇸🇭🇷🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️🇪🇺💙⚪🐻 (@hahoAnna) April 20, 2023
Rafa Nadal in race to be fit for French Open
Nadal turns 37 in June and says his team have decided to try a different treatment and see if things improve but has not put a deadline on his return. "I can't work on what I need to compete," he said.
"I was training but a few days ago we decided to change course a bit, to try another treatment and see if things improve to try to get to what comes next. I can't give deadlines because if I knew I would tell you, but I don't know. This is how things are now."
As well as the overwhelming levels of concern from the tennis world, Nadal's plight has also left compatriot and 19-year-old US Open champion Carlos Alcaraz shattered. "Besides being a tennis player, I am a tennis fan, so to see the best players in the world not being able to compete in these tournaments is a shame," Alcaraz said.
"I am young so not having Rafa close by in tournaments and not learning from him is a shame, I wish him a speedy recovery and hopefully we can enjoy his tennis soon."
Nadal's fitness problems have become an increasing issue since he won his 14th French Open crown last year. At Wimbledon last summer he was forced to withdraw from his semi-final because of an abdominal injury.
Last month he dropped out of the top 10 for the first time since 2005, and is currently ranked 14th. With the The French Open beginning at the end of next month, Nadal will be desperate to try and recover in time for the Rome Masters - the last major tune-up event before Roland Garros - which gets underway in the Italian capital on May 8.
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