MALLORCA’S Rafael Nadal has confirmed that his niggling hip injury has forced him out of defending his French Open title in Paris later this month.
The 36-year-old winner of 22 Grand Slam titles- 14 at Roland Garros- also announced in his home town of Manacor on Thursday that he plans to retire from tennis after the 2024 season.
It’s the first time in 18 seasons that Nadal misses the French Open following the hip injury suffered at the Australian Open in January.
The Spaniard has not played any competitive tennis since then and his withdrawal from Paris comes as no surprise.
“I didn’t make the decision, my body made the decision. To play Roland Garros is impossible,” Nadal told a news conference.
He said that he would be in no hurry to return until his 100% fit- meaning he will not be at Wimbledon and the US Open.
“I’m not going to set a return date, but when I feel physically ready I will start again,” he said.
“A possible goal would be to play towards the end of the year at the Davis Cup,” Nadal added.
As for his impending retirement in 2024, Nadal commented: “Next year will be my last year on tour – that is my idea. If I keep going now I won’t be able to make that happen.”
Ever the perfectionist, the man from Manacor told journalists that he wanted a strong final season to ‘say goodbye to all of the tournaments I have enjoyed in my career.”