Tennis world in disbelief over Rafa Nadal and Naomi Osaka twist

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Rafael Nadal and Naomi Osaka, pictured here at the Australian Open in 2020.
Rafael Nadal and Naomi Osaka at the Australian Open in 2020. (AAP Image/Scott Barbour)

Tennis fans were left gutted on Friday when Rafa Nadal and Naomi Osaka announced their withdrawals from Wimbledon within hours of each other.

The grass-court grand slam lost some serious star power when Nadal and Osaka both announced their decisions to skip the tournament at the All England Club.

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Nadal announced that he will not be playing Wimbledon or the Tokyo Olympics in an attempt to protect his body, thus missing out on his next chance to overtake Roger Federer and secure a men's record 21st grand slam title.

The 35-year-old, who won the last of his two titles at the All England Club in 2010, revealed the news on Twitter.

"Hi all, I have decided not to participate at this year's Championships at Wimbledon and the Olympic Games in Tokyo," he wrote.

"It's never an easy decision to take but after listening to my body and discuss it with my team I understand that it is the right decision."

The Spaniard cited the short two-week turnaround between the French Open and Wimbledon for his decision to skip the grass-court major.

Nadal has always struggled making the adjustment between the clay and grass-court seasons, and with the French Open pushed back a week this year due to Covid-19 reasons there wasn't enough time for the World No.3 to prepare.

"The goal is to prolong my career and continue to do what makes me happy, that is to compete at the highest level and keep fighting for those professional and personal goals at the maximum level of competition," he wrote.

"The fact that there has only been two weeks between RG (Roland Garros) and Wimbledon, didn't make it easier on my body to recuperate after the always demanding clay-court season.

"They have been two months of great effort and the decision I take is focused looking at the mid and long term."

Rafa Nadal and Naomi Osaka, pictured here in action at Wimbledon in 2019.
Rafa Nadal and Naomi Osaka announced their withdrawals from Wimbledon within hours of each other. Image: Getty

Naomi Osaka also withdraws from Wimbledon

Tennis fans already gutted about missing the chance to see Nadal in action at Wimbledon were left even more devastated just hours later when Osaka also withdrew.

The World No.2 has been taking time away from the court since withdrawing from the French Open for mental health reasons amid a furore around her refusal to fulfil media duties.

In a statement on the official website for the Olympic Games, her management teams said: "Naomi won't be playing Wimbledon this year. She is taking some personal time with friends and family.

"She will be ready for the Olympics and is excited to play in front of her home fans."

Wimbledon later tweeted: "You'll be greatly missed, @naomiosaka - wishing you all the best at home and the Olympics and hope to welcome you back next year."

Wimbledon is the second tournament Osaka has withdrawn from since quitting the French Open after one match. She also withdrew from a WTA tournament in Berlin last week.

Osaka was fined $15,000 and threatened with disqualification from Roland Garros after she refused to honour mandatory media commitments.

She then withdrew from the tournament completely and revealed she's been dealing with bouts of depression since 2018.

The Japanese star is expected to be one of the faces of the Tokyo Olympics, where she will be targeting a gold medal for the hosts.

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with AFP

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