Rafa Nadal leaves tennis fans shattered in Indian Wells announcement
The tennis champion is now set to fall out of the world's top 10 for the first time in 18 years.
Rafa Nadal has withdrawn from Indian Wells and the Miami Open after failing to recover from a hip injury he suffered at the Australian Open. The Spanish champion suffered a shock loss to Mackenzie McDonald in the second round at Melbourne Park and was clearly hampered by his hip.
Speculation has been rife that Nadal would pull out of Indian Wells and Miami, despite saying he wanted to be back in action 6-8 weeks after the Australian Open. On Tuesday, organisers confirmed the crushing news about Nadal.
NOT GOOD: Tennis fans left saddened over Emma Raducanu news
'NOT HAPPY': Iga Swiatek in clash with umpire as win streak snapped
The 22-time grand slam champion said he had started rehab and physiotherapy, as instructed by doctors. "I am sad that I won't be able to compete at Indian Wells nor Miami. Very sad not to be there," he said on his Twitter account. "I'll miss all my US fans but I hope to see them later this year during the summer swing."
Nadal was runner-up at Indian Wells last year, losing to Taylor Fritz in the final. He won the event in 2007, 2009 and 2013. "We wish Rafa continued healing, and hope to see him back at the BNP Paribas Open next year," tournament director Tommy Haas said on Tuesday.
Nadal will now turn his attention to the clay-court season and his favourite event - the French Open. On Monday he was spotted training on clay at his academy in Mallorca in a huge sign that he was planning to withdraw from Indian Wells and Miami.
It means Nadal's extraordinary top-10 streak will come to an end, with the 36-year-old set to fall lower than World No.10 for the first time in 18 years. Nadal first moved into the top 10 after his win at the Barcelona Open in 2005 as an 18-year-old, and has never left.
However he has since fallen to World No.8 - his lowest mark since 2017 - and he is set to slide even further. Because he made the final at Indian Wells last year, he won't be able to defend the rankings points he earned and will finally fall out of the top 10.
Fans were left heartbroken for Nadal after news of his withdrawal from Indian Wells and Miami emerged on Tuesday.
Get well soon, Rafa!
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) February 28, 2023
Get well soon, Rafa 💪💪 We’ll miss you here in Miami ❤️❤️
— Miami Open (@MiamiOpen) February 28, 2023
It's OK, Rafa. Just be ready to win another Roland Garros title. Vamos!
— Han Archie (@HanArchie2) February 28, 2023
Was really hoping he could make it.
— Mary B 🏁 (@s0cal_007) February 28, 2023
The greatest era in male tennis is slowly winding to an end. Sad to see. Nadal will forever be my 🐐. His first Wimbledon title still lives in my mind vs Federer where they played till almost nightfall.
— JJ (@JJ_21Manu) February 28, 2023
very sad Nadal isn’t competing in Miami or Indian Wells this year but happy his rehab is helping him return. My guess is he is rehabbing and training to return for the French Open! https://t.co/QEDUQ1zdap
— Arjun Narayan (@narayan_arjun) February 28, 2023
Nadal’s streak in the top ten is certainly at an end. Very sad. But also remarkable it existed at all. https://t.co/Yf3NOm2xcr
— DG (@Bestof5forever) February 28, 2023
Rafa Nadal and Nick Kyrgios out of Indian Wells, Miami
Speaking after his loss at the Australian Open, Nadal said it was never an option for him to retire hurt. He's never retired during a match due to injury, but his incredible spirit may have exacerbated his hip injury.
“Yeah, I consider all the time stopping, but I didn't ask the physiotherapist at the end,” he said after the match. “I have to know myself. And I tried to keep playing without increasing the damage.
"No, that's it. I was not able to hit the backhand at all. I was not able to run for the ball. But I just wanted to finish the match. That's it.”
Nadal also defied his team's wishes to retire hurt during the quarter-finals at Wimbledon last year. The Spaniard pushed on and beat Fritz to move into the semi-finals, but was forced to withdraw before his clash with Nick Kyrgios after suffering an abdominal tear.
“I didn't ask them. I am old enough to take my own decisions," he said at the Australian Open.
"So I didn't want to retire, to be defending champion here. No, I didn't want to leave the court with a retirement. Better like this at the end. I lost. Nothing to say. Congratulate the opponent.
“That's the sport at the same time. Just try your best till the end. Doesn't matter the chances that you have. That's the philosophy of the sport. That's the essence of the sport by itself. I tried to follow that during all my tennis career, and I tried of course to not increase the damage, because I didn't know what's going on.”
On Monday, organisers announced that Kyrgios will miss Indian Wells and Miami as well. The Aussie star is still recovering from knee surgery after he was forced to pull out before the Australian Open.
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.