Two-time champion Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from Wimbledon and the Olympic Games citing a need to preserve his health after a long and taxing clay-court season. It was a clay-court swing that, unusually, ended in disappointment for the Spaniard. He won titles in Barcelona and Rome, but missed out at the French Open where he lost in the semifinals to Novak Djokovic in an instant classic. That defeat, just the third Nadal had ever suffered in Paris, brought an end to his run of four straight titles in the French capital.
His chances of success did not look quite so good at Wimbledon, where he was surely at best a third favourite behind Djokovic and Roger Federer. That said, the Spaniard had reached the semifinals at the last two editions of the Championships, losing to Djokovic in 2018 and Federer in 2019. But it has been over a decade since he last lifted the title at the All England Club, with Nadal having suffered some surprise upsets in the intervening years.
Still, it will doubtless be a tough blow for the world #3 to suffer, all the more so because the race to finish with the most Grand Slam titles has heated up further after Djokovic secured his 19th Major at Roland Garros. But the faster than usual turnaround between the French Open and Wimbledon meant that Nadal felt that there would not be enough time for his body to recuperate before the start of the Championships, with the Spaniard stating that he made the decision ‘focused looking at the mid and long term’.
The decision to withdraw from the Olympics may be more of a concern to the organisers in Tokyo than Nadal himself, who has already won a gold medal in singles and doubles. Several other players have also announced that they will not be travelling to Tokyo, largely due to concerns over the coronavirus. Although there are some big names, including Djokovic, Federer and Naomi Osaka, who are almost certain to play in Japan, it is still looking likely to be a draw short of the usual star wattage.
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