Rafael Nadal

PARIS: Rafael Nadal will miss the US Open after announcing on Friday that he is ending his season because of an injury to his left foot that has troubled him since his defeat in the semi-finals at the French Open in June. “Hello everyone, I wanted to inform you that unfortunately I have to end the 2021 season,” the Spaniard wrote on Twitter. “Honestly, I’ve been suffering a lot more than I should with my foot for a year and I need to take some time to resolve this problem or at least improve the situation (if I want to be able to play) the next few years.”

Following his defeat to Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros, Nadal skipped Wimbledon and the Olympics before making a return to the courts in Washington earlier this month. He beat Jack Sock but then slipped to a three-set defeat at the hands of South Africa’s Lloyd Harris, after which the 35-year-old declared that “the foot was better”.

However, that proved to be premature as he then pulled out of the Toronto Masters saying it was “not a happy situation” and is missing from the current tournament in Cincinatti, the traditional curtain-raiser for the US Open which starts on August 30. Nadal said that he wanted to give his foot time to heal so that he could come back fully competitive in 2022.

“It is with the greatest enthusiasm that I will do everything I can to find the best possible form and return to competition with the objectives that are most important to me,” said Nadal. “I am convinced that I can achieve this if my foot heals and, of course, with great daily effort. I will work as much as I can to make it so. I promise to work hard to try and continue to benefit from this sport for a while longer.”

The world number four, who has 20 major titles to his name including four in New York, is just the latest big name to miss out on the US Open. Last week, another former champion Roger Federer also pulled out of Flushing Meadows. The 40-year-old, who has five US Open titles to his name, said he needed further knee surgery and admitted he “will be out for many months”.

Defending champion Dominic Thiem also announced his withdrawal this week after failing to recover from a wrist injury. World number one Djokovic is expected to be present in spite of not having played since losing the bronze medal match at the Olympics in Tokyo. The Serb has won all three majors this season and is eager to make a clean sweep in New York.

A three-time champion at the US Open, Djokovic is bidding to become only the third man — and first since 1969 — to complete a calendar Grand Slam. Victory would also give him a record 20th major, breaking the tie of 20 he currently has with Nadal and Federer. This year’s US Open will be the second in a row that both Nadal and Federer have missed. – AFP