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17 Jun, 2021 12:09

‘Listening to my body’: Rafael Nadal PULLS OUT of Wimbledon and Olympics in double blow to fans of Spanish icon

‘Listening to my body’: Rafael Nadal PULLS OUT of Wimbledon and Olympics in double blow to fans of Spanish icon

Rafael Nadal has announced his shock withdrawal from the upcoming Wimbledon Grand Slam and Tokyo Olympics after failing to recover from the physical demands of the recent French Open, where he lost in the semi-finals.

The Spaniard, who was last successful at SW19 in 2010, when he won the last of his two titles there, made his announcement via social media on Thursday afternoon.

"Hi all, I have decided not to participate at this year's Championships at Wimbledon and the Olympic Games in Tokyo," he began. 

"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.

"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," Nadal revealed.

"The fact that there has only been two weeks between RG  [Roland Garros] 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," Nadal went on.

"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 sportsperson, I found the spirit that every sportsperson in the world wants to live. I personally had the chance to live three of them and had the honor to be the flag bearer for my country," he finished.

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Now aged 35, this may be the last chance the world number three and 20-time Grand Slam winner gets to represent Spain at the tournament held every four years.

As he won gold in the men's singles in 2008 in Beijing, however, in addition to coming out on top in the men's doubles alongside Marc Lopez in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, which is when he also took the Spanish flag to the opening ceremony, his legacy there is already secure.

More immediately, however, generational rivals Novak Djokovic, who trails him on 19 titles after winning the French Open, and Roger Federer, also on 20, may relish the chance to pull level with or ahead of Nadal in the all-time major trophies rankings due to his absence.

Failing to reach the quarter-finals at the Wimbledon warm-up Halle Open for the first time across 18 appearances, through a three-set defeat to Felix Auger-Aliassime on Wednesday, Federer remarked how hard it has been coming back to the sport after a pair of knee surgeries.

"It’s a huge challenge for me. Everybody who has been in multiple surgeries or a tough surgery knows what I’m talking about," the Swiss great said.

"Things don’t come simple, they don’t come easy. You second-guess yourself rather quickly, unfortunately, and that’s sometimes the biggest worry: the worry of pain or the worry of how you’re going to feel the next day or when you wake up, the first steps, how did they feel? All this stuff, it takes a little bit of a toll on you sometimes," he stressed.

"I didn’t mind the whole rehab process and all that stuff. It has been one that I have also enjoyed, something different. I was able to stay home with the family and that was nice from that standpoint," Federer continued.

"But then of course once you get back on the court you want it so badly like you used to, and then you get disappointed with a performance or shots or a feeling you have or negativity that creeps in. You just are [like], ‘That’s too bad. Why is that happening?’ And you’re just trying to figure that out."

"But I think that’s why I’ve always explained throughout this process, I need to take every match as information, I need to figure it out. I need to understand why it’s going on."

Ever critical of himself with an elite mentality, it seems that Federer was most disappointed with his attitude.

"I realized it was not going to be my day. There was nothing I can do. I started to get really negative and this is not normally how I am by any means," he said.

"I think this is not something I’m happy about and proud about, but at the same time, if I look at my 1,500 matches I’ve played, these things happen."

"The good thing is that I know it will not happen the next time around and the next time and the next time," he pointed out.