Hopes of Rafael Nadal contending for his 15th French Open singles title this spring took a big hit on Thursday.
Spain’s 36-year-old Nadal says he and his doctors and trainers have not healed as much as he and his doctors and trainers had hoped from lower abdominal and upper right psoas injuries suffered at the Australian Open in January. bottom. in his statement, he will miss his third clay court tournament — Madrid Open starts next week — Nadal said there is no timetable for when competitive tennis can resume.
“My injury hasn’t healed yet and I don’t know what I need to do to be in the game,” Nadal said Thursday in a video released on social media. However, a few days ago I decided to change course a bit, try another treatment and see if things improve for my next goal.”
Losing Nadal at the French Open would be a huge blow to the sport and tournament. There is a statue of him outside the main stadium.
That would give Novak Djokovic a huge chance to get ahead of Nadal in the race to win the most Grand Slam singles titles. 22 wins. Djokovic was the last player to beat Nadal in Paris, one of his most unusual feats in tennis. He beat him in the semi-finals in 2021. Nadal’s record at the French Open is 112-3.
Nadal’s injury came when he lost to Mackenzie McDonald in the second round of the Australian Open. Nadal crippled him while chasing a shot deep in the corner of the court, he quickly turned to his coach, who was seated courtside at Rod Laver Arena, and squatted in the corner. I caught my breath. He completed the match, but struggled with movement for the rest of the afternoon, later saying his disappointment was indescribable.
“I can’t say I’m not mentally wrecked this time around because I’d be lying,” he said at the time.
But within days, Nadal’s team said he would be ready to play in six to eight weeks. The Tour began clay-court segments in Europe in the spring.
But when those tournaments began, Nadal’s name disappeared from the draws, even though he posted images of practice sessions on social media. He has withdrawn from tournaments in Monte Carlo and Barcelona and announced on Thursday that he will not be able to play in Madrid next week. The only major tune-up. But that tournament now also seems questionable.
“The reality is that the situation is not what we expected,” Nadal said. “We’re following all the medical indications, but somehow evolution isn’t what they told us in the first place, and we’re in trouble.”
Nadal’s current struggle is the latest in an 18-month battle with injuries that have plagued the twilight of his career. Initially, he overcame them and was able to play his most amazing tennis.
He returned from a recurrence of a chronic leg injury in late 2021, won last year’s Australian Open, and recovered from a cracked rib to win his 14th French Open.
At Wimbledon, however, a torn abdominal muscle forced him to miss the semi-final match against Nick Kyrgios and miss much of the summer. Not far from it, losing in the fourth round to Francis Tiafoe. Then he tore his psoas major in Australia.
A psoas muscle injury, even a mild strain or a less severe tear of a muscle fiber, can cause pain in the buttocks, leg or groin, or transition from sitting to standing. Playing tennis at the highest level is something else entirely.
Even if Nadal misses the French Open, Djokovic’s chances of winning a third singles title will be much more difficult. To win, he will need to overtake 19-year-old Spanish sensation Carlos Alcaraz, who won the US Open last year and became the sport’s youngest No. 1 ranking. Like Nadal, Alcaraz grew up playing on red clay in Spain.