This happened. The tennis community received an answer to the main question of the spring segment of the 2023 season: 14-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal will participate in the next major this year. On Thursday May 18, the famous Spaniard officially announced that he would not be going to Paris and therefore would not be able to defend his title from last year and compete with his current main Big Three rival – Novak Djokovic – for the 23rd “Helmet”. in a professional career. Let’s find out what caused the 36-year-old from Manacor to drop out of the second TBSH of the season, tell us when he promised to return to the King of Clay track and outline the player’s future prospects.
“I am mentally destroyed.” Revelations of Rafael Nadal after the sensational defeat in the AO-2023
drop in ranking
It’s been 120 days since Nadal’s last official match in the second round of the Australian Open, which ended in a sensational loss to American Mackenzie McDonald. A day later, the doctors made and officially confirmed the following diagnosis: iliopsoas muscle sprain of the left leg of the second degree. Due to a terrible injury, the tennis player missed a total of nine tournaments on this season’s calendar: Doha, Dubai, Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, and now he will not play at Roland Garros. By the way, the Parisian “Helmet” for the first time in 18 seasons was left without its main star (Raphael also withdrew from the super tournament in 2016 due to injury, but this happened already during the competition, that is, after the second round) .
“Until I can play.” Will Nadal say goodbye to tennis already at Roland Garros?
Skipping competitions by the Soil King, of course, could not but affect his position in the men’s world leaderboard. Nadal lost a total of 2,370 ranking points. This circumstance did not allow the Spaniard to stay in the top 10 and for the first time since April 2005 he simply flew out.
At the same time, even though the 22-time TBSH champion missed the entire clay preliminary part of the season, there was still a chance of getting into the Paris Major. Images of the player’s training sessions would sometimes appear on the Web, showing Nadal trying to get back on the court and even warming up. At the same time, during one of the training sessions, just six days before the decisive press conference, it was learned that Rafael was having problems.
Day X arrived on May 18. It was at a press conference at his academy that the player officially announced that he would not play at Roland Garros. It’s about the very unfortunate hip injury he received in Australia.
But it turned out that this was not the main idea of his appearance in front of the press: already in 2024, the King of the earth, who will soon be 37 years old, plans to cover up the racket. He said this in his opening remarks in Spanish and English.
Rafael Nadal at a press conference
Photo: Christian Trujillo/Getty Images
Main part of Nadal’s monologue
“After the pandemic, I couldn’t enjoy training and tournaments. Too many problems. Lots of intense workouts. And we have to stop for a while. One, two, three months. I don’t know.
I don’t want to put myself in the position of saying one thing and doing another. My idea is that next year will probably be the last day of my career. I want to be competitive. The chances are greater if I pause now.
Not playing at Roland Garros is not my decision, but my body’s.
You have to accept things as they are. This is the reality. After all, I’m fine. This is a sad day. But as it is, I have to admit that my body can’t handle the load right now. I look to the future, everything is as usual. And I have many other wonderful things in my life.
Competing for big titles nowadays seems difficult, doesn’t it? But why not? I just want to try to salvage the opportunity next year. Will it be possible? I don’t know. Will the Paris Olympics be the last tournament? I don’t know, but I really want to play.
I just want to give myself the opportunity to compete again. I hope that 2024 is not just the year of regular performances, but the year that I can win tournaments. It will be difficult, but we must wait for it!”
Answering questions in his native language, Nadal spoke with an assessment of the likelihood that next year will not yet be the last in his career: “Now it’s hard to imagine. I am optimistic, but not dreamy.
The reaction of the world of tennis
The most significant and main event on Thursday, May 18, of course, could not remain without the reaction of world stars. The Russian tennis player Daniil Medvedev, after reaching the semifinals of the clay court tournament of the Masters series in Rome, commented on the withdrawal of his tennis counterpart.
“Even if I wasn’t at 100% physically and decided to play, I would be the favourite. I hope that he can return as soon as possible, because he is an incredible player, an incredible athlete, one of the best ever,” Medvedev said.
Medvedev is one step away from the first clay court Masters final! Daniil defeated the delinquent Rublev
Nadal’s compatriot, world number two Carlos Alcaraz also ruled that the man from Manacor would not come to Paris.
“Good luck Rafael! It is very painful and sad for everyone that you will not play at Roland Garros and may not be on the court again this year, but I hope that 2024 will be a great season for you and you can say goodbye to tennis as a great champion who are you!” — Alcaraz wrote on social networks.
Nadal will soon have just 445 points left in the live ATP rankings after deducting points for winning Roland Garros 2022, automatically knocking him out of the top 100 players on the planet. He will be below 130th place in the world ranking table. This has not been the case since March 24, 2003. With today’s decision, it is already clear that one of the greatest players of all time will be relegated to the bottom of the rankings at the end of the year. However, this circumstance should not break Rafa. This is a great athlete, an athlete with a capital letter, who will definitely find the strength to return. Not just return, but perhaps even aspire to something more. Maybe even to win the Olympic Games in your beloved Paris. But that will be a completely different story.