Rafael Nadal announced Thursday that he is pulling out of the French Open because of a lingering hip injury that has sidelined him since January and that he expects 2024 to be the final season of his career.
The owner of a record 14 championships at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament will miss it for the first time since making his debut there in 2005.
Nadal, who turns 37 next month, delivered the news of his withdrawal — and future plans — during a news conference at his tennis academy in Manacor, Spain. He said he does not want to set a date for his return to the tennis tour, but expects it to take months.
And then, the 22-time Grand Slam champion added: “You never know how things will turn out, but my intention is that next year will be my last year.”
Play begins at Roland Garros in Paris on May 28. Nadal has a career record of 112-3 across 18 appearances at the French Open, a level of dominance unmatched by any man or woman at any Grand Slam event in the long annals of a sport that dates to the 1800s. When Nadal won the trophy last year at age 36 while dealing with chronic foot pain, he became the oldest champion in tournament history.
Nadal’s birthday is June 3, when ordinarily he might have been playing his third-round match in Court Philippe Chatrier. Instead, he will be out of action, just as he has been for most of this season.
The Spaniard hasn’t competed anywhere since he lost to Mackie McDonald in the second round of the Australian Open on Jan. 18, when his movement clearly was restricted by a bothersome left hip flexor. That was Nadal’s earliest Grand Slam exit since 2016.
An MRI exam the next day revealed the extent of the injury, and his manager said at the time that Nadal was expected to need up to two months to fully recover. He initially aimed to return at the Monte Carlo Masters in March on his beloved red clay, but he wasn’t able to play there, then subsequently sat out tournament after tournament, decreasing the likelihood that he would be fully fit in time for the French Open.