Rafael Nadal
Two-time U.S. Open champ Rafael Nadal could be limited with a wrist injury this year. Nadal claimed last year's crown with a victory over rival Novak Djokovic. Reuters

Rafael Nadal capped his stellar run last year with a glorious victory at the United States Open, but the No. 2 ranked player in the world may not get the opportunity to defend his hardcourt crown. Nadal injured his right wrist during training Tuesday, and pulled out of the two U.S. Open warmup events in Toronto and Cincinnati.

“After the tests I have undergone today in Spain, including an M.R.I., and checking with my doctors, I will have to stay out of competition for at least two to three weeks,” said in a statement.

According to the New York Times Nadal will wear a cast to immobilize the wrist on his less dominant hand, but the expected recovery time coincides with the start of the Flushing Meadows tournament.

Last year Nadal carried his victories in the Canada and Cincinnati tournaments into the U.S. Open, and eventually bested rival Novak Djokovic in the final at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Although he’s posted a 44-8 record and won four singles titles this year, Nadal hasn’t looked as sharp compared to last, which could mean he needs all the preparation he can get before the U.S. His four-set letdown in the fourth round of Wimbledon to 19-year-old Nick Kyrgios last month also begs questions about Nadal’s overall game before the sport’s last major.

The tournament will begin on Aug. 25, and though he’s a lefty, Nadal’s two-handed backhand might be limited if his wrist hasn’t completely healed. The Times reported in detail how wrist injuries have plagued some of tennis’s biggest stars, and become more commonplace. Djokovic suffered through one this spring, No. 13 Caroline Wozniacki sat out a tournament in Stuttgart, Germany because of a left wrist injury and 2009 U.S. Open champ Juan Martin del Potro underwent a surgery on his left wrist earlier this year after missing most of 2010 following a procedure on his right.