Rafael Nadal will not play in French Open, says 2024 could be his last

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Rafael Nadal will not play in the French Open because of an injury, he announced Thursday at a news conference at his tennis academy in Mallorca, Spain.

This is the first time the tennis superstar will not play at Roland Garros since 2004. He has won the Parisian competition a record 14 times and is the defending champion. Last year, he beat Casper Ruud in straight sets to capture his 22nd Grand Slam, also a men’s singles record. He won the tournament at age 36, making him the oldest player to take home the trophy.

‘It will be impossible for me (to play),’ Nadal said in Spanish at the press conference.

The Spaniard has not played since January when he was upset in the second round of the Australian Open by Mackenzie McDonald. He suffered a torn iliopsoas — a muscle at the bottom of the spine that wraps around the pelvis — in the tournament and was expected to be out for eight weeks.

‘We were not able to find the solution to the problem that I had in Australia,’ he said in English at the press conference. ‘It’s the right thing to do for my body and for my personal happiness.”

He did not set a timetable for his return and said that he has not enjoyed playing tennis since the 2020 pandemic as he continues to struggle with his health. He expects next season to be his last.

“My goal and my ambition is to try to stop to give myself an opportunity to enjoy next year,’ he added, ‘that’s probably going to be my last year in a professional tour.”

By opting out of the French Open, Nadal will fall out of the Top 100 in the ATP Rankings. He is currently No. 14.

His absence will leave the opportunity for No. 1 Novak Djokovic or No. 2 Carlos Alcaraz to take the French Open title. Casper Ruud is ranked No. 4 behind Daniil Medvedev.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY