PARIS, France - Rafael Nadal, the most successful player in the history of the French Open, has announced that he will not be able to compete in this year’s edition of the clay-court major due to a hip injury that has sidelined him since January. The 36-year-old Spaniard also revealed that he plans to retire from professional tennis after the 2024 season.
Nadal, who has won 14 titles at Roland Garros and 22 grand slams overall, said he was disappointed to miss his favorite tournament for the first time since his debut in 2005. He said he had hoped to recover in time for the clay season, but his injury was more serious than expected and required more time to heal.
“I have been working hard to be ready for the French Open, but unfortunately it was not possible”, Nadal said at a press conference at his academy in Mallorca on Thursday. “It is a very difficult decision for me, but I have to listen to my body and my doctors. I don’t want to risk further damage or complications”.
Nadal said he will need a few more months of rest and rehabilitation before he can return to the court. He said he hopes to play some tournaments later this year, but he will also likely to skip Wimbledon, which starts on June 26.
Nadal also opened up about his future plans and said he expects 2024 to be his final season without pressure or expectations and try to wine some more titles if possible.
“Next year is my last year”, Nadal said. “I have been playing tennis for a long time and I have given everything I have. I love this sport, but I also have other priorities in life. I want to spend more time with my family, my friends, my foundation, and my academy. I want to thank all my fans for their support and their love throughout my career. You have been amazing and I will always be grateful”.
Nadal’s withdrawal from the French Open leaves a big void in the draw and opens up the opportunity for other players to challenge for the title. Among the favorites are Carlos Alcaraz, the 19-year-old Spanish sensation who has been compared to a young Nadal; Novak Djokovic, the world number one and two-time Roland Garros champion; and Holger Rune, the 20-year-old Danish prodigy who beat Djokovic in Rome last week.