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Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from Wimbledon 2021 and the Tokyo Olympics to “recuperate” after the clay-court season.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 competitive action next season after ending his 2021 campaign early due to injury.

The 20-time Grand Slam winner announced in August that he was to miss the US Open, having recently pulled out of the Cincinnati Masters and Canadian Open.

The 35-year-old sustained a foot injury at the French Open in June – where he failed to defend his title for the first time since 2016 after losing to rival Novak Djokovic in the Semi-Finals.

Nadal posted on Instagram: “Honestly, I have been suffering a lot more than I should with my foot for a year and I need to take some time.”

“Having discussed it with the team and family, this decision has been made and I believe that it is the way forward to try to recover and recover well.

“I am [determined] to do whatever it takes to regain the best possible shape, to continue competing for the things that really motivate me and the things that I have done during all these years.

“I am convinced that with the recovery of the foot and obviously a very important daily effort this can be achieved. I will work as hard as I can to make it happen.”

The Spaniard missed both Wimbledon and the Olympic Games in order to “recover from a demanding clay court season” and returned at the Citi Open in Washington, exiting in the Third Round to South Africa’s Lloyd Harris.

It is unclear as to exactly when Nadal will play his next match but he is expected to be aiming for a return prior to the Australian Open in February 2022.

The King of Clay remains locked in a three-way with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic on 20 Grand Slam titles at the top of the all-time list.

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