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Rafael Nadal pulls out of ATP Finals, ends 2018 season to undergo ankle surgery

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 5 Nov 2018
  • Rafael Nadal has pulled out of the Nitto ATP Finals and ended his 2018 season
  • Nadal will be replaced at the O2 by John Isner
  • World no. 2 still suffering with abdominal injury and undergoing ankle surgery

Rafael Nadal has pulled out of the Nitto ATP Finals and ended his 2018 season.

World no. 2 Rafael Nadal announced on Monday that he would not be competing at the season-ending championships and was undergoing ankle surgery in Barcelona.

Nadal was scheduled to appear at the Nitto ATP Finals, which begin on Sunday 11 November at London's O2 Arena. 

But ahead of the draw for the eight-player season-ending championships, which takes place on Monday evening, Nadal announced that he was ending his season. 

Nadal hasn't played since the US Open, when he retired in the semifinals against Juan Martin del Potro due to a knee injury. The Spaniard was hopeful of returning to competition at last week's Paris Masters, but pulled out the day before he was due to begin his campaign against Fernando Verdasco because of an abdominal injury he had incurred in practice.

With the abdominal injury preventing Nadal from competing at the season-ending championship, the world no. 2 announced he has taken the opportunity to undergo surgery to correct a long-standing ankle problem - a 'free body', which is a piece of cartilage, bone or scar tissue that has become free floating in the joint, needs to be removed. This is being done via arthroscopic surgery in Barcelona.

Nadal made the announcement in a series of Tweets on Monday afternoon.

'It has been a complicated year, very good at the tennis level when I was able to play and at the same time very bad as far as injuries are concerned,' Nadal wrote.

'I have done everything possible to reach the end of the season in good condition ... and I really wanted to play.

'Unfortunately I had the abdominal problem in Paris last week and, in addition, I have a free body in the ankle joint that has to be removed in the operating room today.

'It is true that we had detected it for a long time and from time to time it bothered me. However, since the problem in the abdominal muscle also prevents me from playing in London, we take advantage of the moment to remove the free body and avoid future problems.

'In this way I hope to be [fully healthy] for the next season.'

Nadal will be replaced in the eight-man tournament by world no. 10 John Isner.

The left-hander is the second player to withdraw from the Nitto ATP Finals due to injury, following Juan Martin del Potro's announcement that he is unable to play at the O2 due to the fractured kneecap he suffered in Shanghai. 

This is the seventh time Nadal has withdrawn from the Nitto ATP Finals after qualifying. He last appeared at the season-ending championships a year ago in 2017, but pulled out after playing just one match - a three-set defeat to David Goffin in the round-robin stages.

Nadal's withdrawal confirms that Novak Djokovic will end the year as world no. 1 - the first player in ATP World Tour history to end the season as world no. 1 after being ranked outside the top 20 during it. Djokovic was ranked as low as world no. 22 coming into the grass-court season but reclaimed the world no. 1 ranking at last week's Paris Masters despite being defeated in the final by Karen Khachanov.

The full eight-player field for the Nitto ATP Finals is now:
  1. Novak Djokovic
  2. Roger Federer
  3. Alexander Zverev
  4. Kevin Anderson
  5. Marin Cilic
  6. Dominic Thiem
  7. Kei Nishikori
  8. John Isner

The defending champion, Grigor Dimitrov, did not qualify. 

The draw for the 2018 Nitto ATP Finals takes place on Monday with main-draw play due to begin on Sunday 11 November.

*Geo-restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify

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Rafael Nadal pulls out of ATP Finals, ends 2018 season to undergo ankle surgery

Rafael Nadal won't play the Nitto ATP Finals or compete again in 2018 due to an abdominal injury and a required surgery in his right ankle. John Isner will replace the world no. 2 at the season-ending championships, held at London's O2 Arena from 11-18 November

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