Rafael Nadal, the 20-time Grand Slam winner, will not go for No. 21 at Wimbledon this year, he announced on Thursday. He also pulled out of the Olympics, and in doing so became the latest top athlete to suggest that compressed sports schedules after the pandemic were asking too much of their biggest stars.
“Hi all, I have decided not to participate at this year’s Championships at Wimbledon and the Olympic Games in Tokyo,” he wrote in a series of posts on Twitter. “It’s never an easy decision to take but after listening to my body and discuss it with my team I understand that it is the right decision.”
“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.”
The fact that there has only been 2 weeks between RG and Wimbledon, didn’t make it easier on my body to recuperate after the always demanding clay court season. They have been two months of great effort and the decision I take is focused looking at the mid and long term.
His withdrawal came a day after the basketball star LeBron James blamed the N.B.A.’s compressed schedule for a string of injuries to some of its biggest names, and as coaches and medical experts in Europe were warning about the physical demands on players competing in the monthlong European Championship.
Nadal has struggled with injuries during his career, and Wimbledon is played on grass, a surface that is not his favorite. (He has won there only twice, and now will have missed the event three times since 2009.) The Olympics in Tokyo will be played on hard courts.
Nadal most recently skipped last year’s U.S. Open in New York, citing concerns about the coronavirus.
Nadal cited the short turnaround between the French Open and Wimbledon as the reason for his withdrawal, saying it would not give him enough time to recuperate.
Nadal, 35, is coming off an epic French Open semifinal against Novak Djokovic last week. In a bid to win the tournament for the 14th time, Nadal won the first two sets before eventually losing in five sets. Djokovic went on to win the tournament.
Nadal, Djokovic and Roger Federer, 39, are locked in a battle to amass the most career Grand Slam singles titles. Nadal and Federer have 20 and Djokovic has 19. No other player has more than 14.
Nadal has played in three previous Olympics, winning the singles gold medal in Beijing in 2008. In 2016, he carried the flag of Spain at the opening ceremony in Rio de Janeiro.
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