Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the Australian Open with an injury after playing just one tournament in his comeback from 12 months on the sidelines.
Nadal said he had concerns over his surgically repaired hip after needing a medical timeout in the third set of his Brisbane International quarterfinal loss to Jordan Thompson on Friday.
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The Spaniard suffered a small muscle tear during the match.
Nadal’s latest injury casts doubts about the former world number one’s ability to compete at the elite level again after he previously said he expected to finish his glittering but injury-plagued career in 2024.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion made his long-awaited return to competitive tennis in Brisbane after spending almost a year out on the sidelines with a hip flexor injury sustained during his second-round defeat to Mackenzie McDonald in last year’s Australian Open.
“During my last match in Brisbane I had a small problem on a muscle that as you know made me worried,” Nadal said in a statement on X on Sunday.
“Once I got to Melbourne I have had the chance to make an MRI and I have micro tear on a muscle, not in the same part where I had the injury and that’s good news.
“Right now I am not ready to compete at the maximum level of exigence in 5 sets matches. I’m flying back to Spain to see my doctor, get some treatment and rest.”
Hi all, during my last match in Brisbane I had a small problem on a muscle that as you know made me worried. Once I got to Melbourne I have had the chance to make an MRI and I have micro tear on a muscle, not in the same part where I had the injury and that’s good news.
— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) January 7, 2024
Nadal, who won the Australian Open in 2009 and 2022, said he had worked extremely hard to make his comeback during the year and stressed that despite the latest setback, his goal was to be at his best in three months.
Nadal also said in an interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais recently that he was thinking about the French Open, where he has won 14 of his major titles.
“Within the sad news for me for not being able to play in front of the amazing Melbourne crowds, this isn’t very bad news and we all remain positive with the evolution for the season,” Nadal added.
“I really wanted to play here in Australia, and I have had the chance to play a few matches that made me very happy and positive.”