The tennis world was left in shock this week when Rafa Nadal announced his withdrawal from Roland Garros and his announcement has sparked a sad 25-year first in Paris. Nadal announced on Friday he wouldn't take part in the French Open after he was unable to recover from a serious injury he suffered earlier this year at the Australian Open.
The 36-year-old had initially been expected to recover in time for the clay court season in preparation for his bid to claim a record-extending 15th title at the French Open.
However, after revealing that his recovery had not gone as well as expected, Nadal pulled out of all the clay court lead-in tournaments, prompting fears he would have to miss the Roland Garros grand slam for the first time in 19 years. And the Spaniard confirmed the tennis world's fears that he wouldn't line-up in Paris this year.
The tennis world was quick to react to the legend's news with Rod Laver and Daniil Medvedev wishing the 36-year-old a speedy recovery so he could return to the court. This is after Nadal hinted that 2024 will be his last season.
And Nadal's withdrawal from Roland Garros marks a sad reality for the tournament. This will the first time Nadal or Roger Federer won't play in Paris since 1998.
Federer retired from tennis last year and Nadal's injury concerns has marked a sad moment for the sport and fans.
— ATP Tour (@atptour) May 19, 2023
The end of an era 💔
— nugget (@bynugget) May 19, 2023
Rafa Nadal's sad French Open announcement
Nadal made the sad announcement he wouldn't be taking part at this year's Roland Garros, which leaves just one more chance for the King of Clay to take part in his most lucrative grand slam. Nadal hasn't missed Roland Garros since 2004.
“It’s not a decision I’m taking, it’s a decision my body is taking,” he said. "My goal and my ambition is to try and stop and give myself an opportunity to enjoy the next year that will probably be my last year in the professional tour.
"That is my idea but I can't say 100 per cent it will be like this, but my idea and my motivation is to try to enjoy and say goodbye to all the tournaments that have been important for me. To enjoy being competitive and something that today is not possible.
"I believe, if I keep going now, I will not be able to make it happen." Nadal said it became abundantly clear in recent days that he simply would not be able to compete at Roland Garros to the levels he wanted.
"I was even working as much as possible every single day for the last four months, they have been very difficult months because we were not able to find a solution to the problems I had in Australia. Today I'm still in a position where I am not able to feel myself ready to compete at the standards I need to be to play Roland Garros. I am not the guy who will be at Roland Garros just to play."
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