'Very sad': Tennis world 'gutted' by Rafael Nadal announcement

Seen here, Rafael Nadal waves to the crowd after being knocked out of the French Open.
Rafael Nadal says he is protecting his body by withdrawing from Wimbledon and the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Pic: Getty

Tennis fans have been left devastated after 20-time grand slam winner Rafael Nadal announced that he would not be taking part in this year's Wimbledon or the Olympic Games.

The 20-time grand slam champion admitted it was an incredibly tough decision to make but said it was the right call if he wants to prolong his career.

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Nadal will miss out on the chance to play for a record-breaking 21st grand slam title at the All England Club as he aims to protect his body from potentially longer term injuries.

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

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

"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."

Nadal has always found the transition from clay to grass tough on his body and, with only two weeks between the French Open and Wimbledon this year, there is less time to adjust.

The Spaniard was clearly struggling physically towards the end of his brutal loss to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals at Roland Garros and was seen to be limping to his car the morning after.

"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.

"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."

The news left his legion of fans shattered on social media.

Spaniard a two-time Wimbledon champion

Nadal, who will be replaced as third seed at Wimbledon by Stefanos Tsitsipas, missed the Championships in 2004, 2009 and 2016 because of injury and will no doubt see the US Open as a better chance to win a 21st grand slam.

He has lifted the trophy in New York on four occasions, including in 2017 and 2019.

Nadal is a double Olympic champion having won gold in singles in Beijing in 2008 and in doubles with Marc Lopez in Rio in 2016, when he also carried Spain's flag in the opening ceremony.

"The Olympic Games always meant a lot and they were always a priority as a sports person, I found the spirit that every sports person in the world wants to live.

Pictured here, Rafael Nadal with his gold medal from the Rio Games in 2016.
Rafael Nadal already has two Olympic gold medals in his vast collection. Pic: Getty

"I personally had the chance to live three of them and had the honour to be the flag bearer for my country."

On hearing the news, Nadal's old rival Andy Murray said at Queen's Club: "Obviously, it's a shame, shame for him, shame for the tournaments.

"This year is hard. With the bubbles and everything, you need to be right into it and be prepared to go through that.

"I don't know if he has any physical issues either. He obviously looked like he had some issues at the end of the match with Novak potentially."

with AAP

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