20-time Grand Slam tournament winner Rafael Nadal will not go for number 21 at this year’s Wimbledon, he announced on Thursday. He also pulled out of the Olympics, becoming the latest top athlete to do so suggesting that sporting schedules narrowed after the pandemic were asking too much of their biggest stars.
“Hello, I have decided not to participate in this year’s Wimbledon Championships and the Olympic Games in Tokyo,” He wrote in a series of posts on Twitter. “It’s never an easy decision, but after listening to my body and discussing it with my team, I understand it’s the right decision.”
“The goal is to prolong my career and continue to do what makes me happy, is to compete at the highest level and keep fighting for those professional and personal goals at the highest level of competition.”
Nadal has struggled with injuries throughout his career, and Wimbledon is played on grass, a surface that is not his favourite. (He has won there only twice, and will now miss the competition three times since 2009.) The Olympics in Tokyo will be played on hardcourts.
Nadal recently skipped last year’s US Open in New York, citing concerns about the coronavirus.
Nadal has cited the small change between the French Open and Wimbledon as the reason for his return, saying it will not give him enough time to recover.
Nadal, 35, is crashing out of a memorable French Open semi-final against Novak Djokovic last week. Attempting to win the tournament for the 14th time, Nadal won the first set and eventually lost in four. Djokovic won the tournament.
Nadal, Djokovic and 39-year-old Roger Federer are battling for the biggest Grand Slam men’s singles title of their career. Nadal and Federer have 20 and Djokovic has 19. No other player has more than 14.
Nadal has played in the last three Olympics, winning the singles gold medal in Beijing in 2008. In 2016, he hoisted the Spanish flag at the opening ceremony in Rio de Janeiro.