In a shocking turn of events, tennis legend Rafael Nadal, a record 14-time men’s singles winner at the French Open, has announced his withdrawal from the prestigious tournament due to lingering hip pain. This marks the first time in 19 years that the Spanish player will not be participating in the iconic clay-court event, leaving fans and competitors alike in disbelief.
The 36-year-old Nadal, who has an astonishing collection of 22 major men’s championships to his name, disclosed his retirement plans, revealing that the conclusion of the 2024 season will mark the end of his illustrious career. “I didn’t make the decision, my body made the decision,” Nadal shared. “To play Roland Garros is impossible. 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.”
Since sustaining a hip injury during the Australian Open in January, Nadal has been unable to compete on the professional circuit. With his 37th birthday approaching next month, the Spanish superstar has been diligently working on his fitness in the lead-up to Roland Garros. However, despite his unwavering commitment, he acknowledges that he is still far from being in optimal tournament shape. The French Open is set to commence on May 28 and run until June 11 in the city of Paris, leaving Nadal with no choice but to withdraw from the event he has dominated throughout his career.
“I was working as much as possible every single day for the past four months, and they have been difficult because I’ve not been able to find a solution to the problem I had in Australia,” Nadal confessed. “I’m not in the position to be able to compete at the standard required to play Roland Garros. I’m not a guy who will just be at Roland Garros.”
Realizing the severity of his situation, Nadal has made the difficult decision to take an indefinite hiatus from tennis in order to fully recover and return to the court in peak physical condition for a farewell season in 2024. “I will stop for a while, maybe one month, maybe three months, or maybe four months. I do not like to predict the future,” Nadal stated. “I will do the right thing for my body and personal happiness. My motivation is to enjoy the season and say goodbye to all the tournaments I have enjoyed in my career. If I keep going now, I will not be able to make that happen.”
The initial hip injury was sustained during Nadal’s second-round match against American Mackenzie MacDonald at the Australian Open, leaving him anticipating a six to eight-week absence from the game. However, an MRI scan conducted two days after the contest revealed a tear in his left psoas muscle. As the injury persisted and prevented a swift recovery, Nadal made the difficult decision to skip the Madrid Open last month and began preparing an alternative course of action.
The absence of Rafael Nadal at this year’s French Open is undoubtedly a significant loss for the tennis community, but fans and fellow players remain hopeful that the Spanish champion will make a triumphant return to bid farewell to the sport he has so magnificently graced.