Dashing his hopes of regaining the French Open title and claiming an unprecedented 10th crown, Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the tournament with a left wrist injury. The Spaniard announced a hastily convened press conference at Roland Garros on Friday, where he walked in with strapping on his left wrist to make the announcement that he would not play on.
Nadal had sailed through the first two rounds of the tournament, against Sam Groth and Facundo Bagnis, and was set to meet fellow Spaniard Marcel Granollers in the third round on Saturday. Granollers will now get a walkover into the fourth round.
“This is one of the toughest press conferences in my career, probably.” Nadal said as he announced the news.
It is unquestionably a bitter blow to Nadal, who had real hopes of adding to his record nine titles. While last year was a massive disappointment, and included a straight sets defeat to Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals of the French Open, the 29-year-old had returned to form in recent weeks. Last month, he won his first Masters 1000 event in close to two years at Monte Carlo and followed it up with victory in Barcelona.
Nadal stated at his press conference that the injury first appeared at the tournament in Madrid earlier this month, when he was beaten in the semifinals by Andy Murray. While he was initially given the all-clear to continue playing, the 14-time Grand Slam champion made it clear that if it hadn’t have been the French Open, the tournament he has dominated since making his debut in 2005, he may not have even played his first two rounds in Paris. His win over Bagnis on Thursday was only possible because of a painkilling injection.
"I arrived here with a little bit of pain but I thought it was something I would be able to manage, but every day it got a bit worse," he said. "We spent a lot of hours here to try to play and yesterday I played with a injection in the wrist and anaesthetic. I could play but there was more and more pain and this morning I could feel that I could not move my wrist much.
"I came here, had an MRI and the results are not positive. It's not 100 percent -- it's not broken but if I keep playing it's going to be broken in the next couple of days."
Nadal did not provide a precise timeline for his return to action, and said that he would “work hard” to be fit for Wimbledon, which gets underway in a month’s time, but would be taking it “day by day.”