Rafael Nadal withdraws from Wimbledon 2021 and Tokyo Olympics
Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from Wimbledon 2021 and the Tokyo Olympics to “recuperate” after the clay-court season.
Nadal, the 2008 and 2010 Wimbledon men’s singles champion, has opted out of the grass court show-piece – which begins on June 28.
The 35-year-old was beaten by rival Novak Djokovic in the Semi-Finals of the French Open last weekend and had hinted at potentially pulling out of Wimbledon.
The Spaniard confirmed his decision on social media on Thursday. A statement from Nadal said: ‘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.
‘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 he maximum level of competition.
‘The fact that there has only been 2 weeks between RG 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.
‘Sport prevention of any kind of excess in my body is a very important factor at this stage of my career in order to try to keep fighting for the highest level of competition and titles.
‘I want to send a special message to my fans around the world, to those in the United Kingdom and Japan in particular.
‘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. I personally had the chance to live 3 of them and had the honor to be the flag bearer for my country.’
Nadal has also opted out of the Olympic Games in Tokyo – where he was due to represent Spain from July 23.
Nadal was a gold medalist in the singles at both Beijing 2008 and the doubles at Rio 2016.
Renowned as the ‘King of Clay’, Nadal said the shorter turnaround between the French Open and Wimbledon this year was a key factor in his decision.
There are only two weeks between the French Open finishing on clay and Wimbledon starting on grass as opposed to the usual three weeks between the two Grand Slams.
The French Open was pushed back a week by Roland Garros organisers in order to start the tournament with fewer of the country’s covid restrictions in place – including allowing fans in.
Rafa Nadal returns to action at the 2021 French Open as he bids for a 14th title at Roland Garros – here are full details of his next match.
Nadal is the most successful player in the history of the French Open, having lost just three matches at Roland Garros since making his debut back in 2005.
The Spaniard won the title consecutively between 2005-2008, 2010-2014 and 2017-2020, earning him the nickname ‘The King of Clay’.
Nadal is currently tied with Swiss legend Roger Federer on 20 career Grand Slams and is looking to claim the outright record by successfully defending the French Open title once again.
Nadal began his latest quest for glory at Roland Garros with a routine straight sets win over Australia’s Alexei Popyrin in Round One on Tuesday.
Nadal then celebrated his 35th birthday by sweeping aside 2016 quarter-finalist Richard Gasquet 6-0, 7-5, 6-2 to extend his unbeaten head-to-head record over the Frenchman to 17 matches.
The defending champion followed that up by overcoming Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 in the Last 32 before seeing off number 18 seed Jannik Sinner 7-5, 6-3, 6-0.
Nadal’s staggering run of unanswered sets came to an end in the Quarter-Finals against Diego Schwartzman, but the number three seed dug deep to close out a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 victory.
He now faces rival Novak Djokovic in a mouth-watering second Semi-Final for what will be their ninth meeting at Roland Garros.
Nadal has won seven of their eight previous encounters in Paris, though Djokovic is one of only two men to have beaten the Spaniard at this historic venue, having done so in 2015.
The match is scheduled to take place on Court Philippe Chatrier on Friday June 11 over the best of five sets, with an expected start time of around 4.30pm BST.