Rafael Nadal has announced he will sit out the remainder of the 2021 season in order to manage an ongoing complaint with his left foot.
The Spanish superstar had already sparked rumours he would not be attending the upcoming US Open when he entered a golf tournament scheduled just a few days before the Grand Slam.
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Late on Friday evening he proved there was a hint of truth to them, when he announced he would not be making any more appearances on court this year.
Nadal had already been forced to miss both Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics due to the foot injury, which he picked up during the French Open.
The 20-time grand slam champion suffered a shock exit in Washington this month, where he kicked off his lead-up to the final grand slam of the year, and last week pulled out of the Masters 1000 event in Toronto due to the issue.
"I wanted to inform you that unfortunately I have to end the 2021 season," 35-year-old Nadal tweeted on Friday.
"It is a year that I have missed things that matter a lot to me, such as Wimbledon, such as the Olympics, how the United States Open is going to be now, (and) many other events that are also important to me.
"In view of the fact that during the latter year I have not had the ability to train and prepare and compete in the way that I really like to... I came to the conclusion that what I need is time to recover.
"I am (determined) to do whatever it takes to regain the best possible shape, to continue competing for the things that really motivate me and the things that I have done during all these years.
"I am convinced that with the recovery of the foot and obviously a very important daily effort this can be achieved. I will work as hard as I can to make it happen."
Fans were left dismayed by the decision on social media.
— ATP Tour (@atptour) August 20, 2021
With Federer, Thiem and now Nadal out, can anyone stop Djokovic from winning the Grand Slam? https://t.co/y4sc82TOBu
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) August 20, 2021
so no federer and now no nadal at the US open...only the next gen in the way of the djokovic calendar slam
— Gaurav Kalra (@gauravkalra75) August 20, 2021
Just like Federer and Thiem, Rafael Nadal is OUT for the rest of the season…
It’s been tough. https://t.co/kkjvQoUZp1
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) August 20, 2021
US Open reeling from absences of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer
Nadal's great rival and fellow 20-times grand slam winner Roger Federer is also out of the US Open and will be sidelined for many months because he needs knee surgery, while reigning champion Dominic Thiem withdrew with a wrist injury.
It means world No.1 Novak Djokovic will go into the tournament as an even shorter-priced favourite to complete the calendar grand slam.
The US Open runs from August 30-September 12.
Federer, who turned 40 on August 8, hasn't played a match since losing in the Wimbledon quarter-finals last month.
The Swiss star then sat out the Tokyo Olympics, saying he had hurt his knee during the grass-court season, before announcing his withdrawal from the US Open some time later.
The news, inevitably, will raise further questions over whether Federer, a father-of-four, will have the desire to try to make another comeback.
He missed more than a year of action after first having his knee repaired shortly after the 2020 Australian Open in February of that year. He had a follow-up procedure that June.
"I'll be on crutches for many weeks and then also out of the game for many months," the 20-time grand slam champion said.
"It's going to be difficult of course in some ways but at the same time I know it's the right thing to do because I want to be healthy and I want to be running around later as well.
"I want to give myself a glimmer of hope also to return to the tour in some shape or form.
"I am realistic, don't get me wrong, I know how difficult it is at this age right now to do another surgery and try it.
"But look I want to be healthy and I'll go through the rehab process."
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