In perhaps mildly shocking news, but expected, Rafael Nadal has announced he will miss the French Open, and the rest of the 2023 season, due to injury. Nadal has been out of action since losing in the second round of this year’s Australian Open and has only played a total of four matches all season.
He was in a race against time to recover and accumulate sufficient playing time in the lead-up to the upcoming clay slam. But despite a concerted effort with his medical team and family, Nadal did not attain the desired results in his rehabilitation.
In a press conference which was initially planned and confirmed by his PR team 24 hours earlier, the 14-time French Open champion told the media that he would not be able to compete for at least a few more months. Rumors had swirled on social media that Nadal would be shutting down his 2023 season, but he said he’d like to play the rest of the year. However, he also announced that he feels that 2024 will be his final season.
Why is Rafael Nadal not playing at the 2023 French Open?
Nadal suffered what appeared to be a leg injury at the Australian Open, limping between points in his match against McDonald. After undergoing an MRI scan in Melbourne, he confirmed that he suffered a Grade 2 tear of the iliopsoas muscle on his left hip. At the time, Nadal announced that the recovery period would last between six to eight weeks ruling him out from the indoor season in February and the March Masters.
Ostensibly, Nadal was expected to return to action in Monte Carlo in April, with the tournament confirming on its social media pages and even including him in its official poster and entry list. But the Spaniard was quick to refute those claims making his first public withdrawal.
Less than two weeks later Nadal pulled out from Barcelona, admitting he was still not prepared and needed more time. Madrid was soon on the red list, this time Nadal sounding downbeat in a video he shared on social media.
And the writing was very much on the wall when he pulled out from Rome, another clay-court tournament that forms a masterpiece in Nadal’s memorabilia. He was offered a wild card at the Bordeaux Challenger through his agent but politely declined.
Although Nadal hit the practice courts at the end of March, he was recently pictured feeling discomfort in his leg during one practice session.
— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) March 28, 2023
What Rafael Nadal’s absence means for this year’s French Open
First and foremost, there will be no record-extending 15th French Open title. Nadal is the most decorated and dominant clay court player of all time. He’s won the tournament a record 14 times including five of the last six editions. He is also a joint record-holder of most Grand Slams in men’s tennis with 22.
Since his tournament debut in 2005, Nadal has played every edition of the clay-court slam and only withdrew mid-tournament back in 2016. It will be the first time since 2004 that Nadal’s name will not be in the main draw of Roland Garros.
With 2000 ranking points set to be wiped off, Nadal will drop outside the world’s Top 100 for the first time in precisely two decades. Two months ago, Nadal’s unprecedented streak of 900 plus weeks being ranked in the Top 10 came to a halt.
Main Photo Credit: Mike Frey-USA TODAY Sports