World number three Rafael Nadal will not take part in Wimbledon, the year’s third Grand Slam, and the Olympic Games to alleviate the pressures the sport was taking on his body and manage his career.
The Spaniard made the announcement on Thursday saying the decision was the right one but not an easy one after “listening” to his body and discussing it with his team.
“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 the maximum level of competition,” Nadal said in a statement.
Nadal also cited the reduced break between the French Open and Wimbledon which made it more difficult for his body to recover, especially considering the grueling campaign he endured in Paris which culminated in a four-set semi-final loss to eventual winner Novak Djokovic.
This year, the French Open was pushed forward by one week causing the tournament to end on June 13, two weeks before Wimbledon is expected to start reducing the three-week break between the two tournaments which has been in place since 2015.
“They have been two months of great effort and the decision I take is focused looking at the mid and long term,” Nadal noted.
“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.”
Nadal also sent a special message to his fans, especially those in the UK and Japan, the host nations of the events.
“The Olympic Games always meant a lot and they were always a priority as a Sportsperson, I found the spirit that every sportsperson 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 won a record-equalling 20 Grand Slam titles, along with Swiss great Roger Federer, with two of those wins coming at Wimbledon. He also won Olympic gold in the men’s singles at the 2008 Games in Beijing.