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Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from Wimbledon 2021 and the Tokyo Olympics to “recuperate” after the clay-court season.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.
Rafael Nadal will return to Grand Slam action at the 2022 Australian Open in January as he continues his quest for a 21st major title.
Nadal cut short his 2021 season back in August, citing an ongoing foot injury as the main issue.
Having won the Barcelona Open and Italian Open, Nadal lost an epic Semi-Final to rival Novak Djokovic at the French Open – a result which signalled only his third ever defeat at Roland Garros.
That campaign appeared to have taken its toll on the Spaniard physically, and he subsequently withdrew from both Wimbledon and the Olympic Games, citing schedule reasons.
Following further injury problems, Nadal withdrew from Toronto and Cincinnati and announced on August 20 that his season was over.
Now, after five months of rest and recuperation, the 35-year-old will return to Grand Slam action at the Australian Open as he looks to mark a sensational return to the winner’s circle.
With Djokovic and Roger Federer both out of action in Melbourne, Nadal is aiming to claim the outright lead in the Grand Slam champion list, with the trio currently locked level on 20 titles apiece.
Nadal’s only previous triumph at the Australian Open came back in 2009, when he defeated Federer in a classic five-set final.
Since then, he has had to settle for the runner-up spot on four occasions, most recently in 2019, and has reached back-to-back Quarter-Finals in his last two visits Down Under.
Nadal returns to Melbourne Park as the number six seed and got his latest campaign off to a winning start against America’s Marcos Giron on Monday with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 success.
He then brushed aside Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann in straight sets to set up a Third Round meeting with number 28 seed Karen Khachanov – silver medallist at the 2020 Olympic Games.
The match start time is approximately 9.15am GMT, with either Adrian Mannarino or Aslan Karatsev awaiting the winner in the Last 16 next week.