WASHINGTON, June 17, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)
World No. 3 Rafael Nadal has decided to forgo playing in this month’s Wimbledon Championships and next month’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, saying he must listen to his body in order to extend his career.
The 20-time major champion Nadal announced his decision on his social media platforms Thursday morning, citing the tougher challenge to recover after a demanding clay-court season. The 35-year-old Spaniard said he made his decision with the goal of preventing injuries while also expressing his desire to prolong his career.
Hi all, I have decided not to participate at this year’s Championships at Wimbledon and the Olympic Games in Tokyo. 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
— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) June 17, 2021
“Hi all, I have decided not to participate at this year’s Championships at Wimbledon and the Olympic Games in Tokyo. It’s never an easy decision to take but after listening to my body and discuss[ing] 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 two 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.
“Sport prevention of any kind of excess in my body is a very important factor at this stage of my career in order to try to keep fighting for the highest level of competition and titles.
“I want to send a special message to my fans around the world, to those in the United Kingdom and Japan in particular.
“The Olympic Games always meant a lot and they were always a priority as a Sports person, I found the spirt that every sports person in the world wants to live. I personally had the chance to live 3 of them and had the honor to be the flag bearer for my country.”
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) June 17, 2021
Nadal’s decision comes a week after he lost a four-hour and 11-minute, four-set semifinal match to eventual champion Novak Djokovic at Roland-Garros. During the just-completed European clay-court season, Nadal went 19-3 and won titles in Barcelona and Rome. Also, he was a quarterfinalist at Monte-Carlo and Madrid. Overall, he’s 23-4 this year, which includes a quarterfinal finish at the Australian Open.
This season, with Roland-Garros pushed back a week to take advantage of the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions in France, it meant there would be only a two-week gap between the end of the French Open and the start of Wimbledon. Coupled with Nadal’s non-entry in any grass-court tune-up tournaments such as this week’s NOVENTI OPEN in Halle, Germany or the cinch Championships in London, or next week’s events in Mallorca, Spain, and Eastbourne, Great Britain, Nadal’s withdrawal from Wimbledon shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.
For now, Nadal will remain tied with Roger Federer for most career major titles won, each with 20.