In this file photograph taken on January 18, 2023, Spain’s Rafael Nadal hits a return to Mackenzie McDonald of the US during their men’s singles match on day three of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne. (Photo by MANAN VATSYAYANA / AFP)
Los Angeles: Three-time event winner and 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the ATP 1000 at Indian Wells because of injury, tournament officials said on Tuesday.
The news comes after the Spaniard said in late January he expected to miss six to eight weeks with the hip flexor injury he sustained at the Australian Open.
“We wish Rafa continued healing, and hope to see him back at the BNP Paribas Open next year,” tournament director Tommy Haas said in a statement.
Nadal said on January 26 that tests had confirmed a moderate muscle tear in his left hip that did not require surgery.
It’s not clear if Nadal will be ready to return for the ATP 1000 at Miami, the second leg of the “Sunshine Double” which follows on the heels of Indian Wells, starts on March 8 in the California desert east of Los Angeles.
Nadal will more likely target being ready for the clay-court season in mid-April, leading into Roland Garros in May where he will be chasing a 15th French Open title.
Nadal, who made history as the first man to win 21 Grand Slam singles titles at the 2022 Australian Open, hobbled out of this year’s edition in January after just two matches.
He said in Melbourne he had had the problem for “a couple of days” but at that point had not received a diagnosis.
Nadal, whose stellar career has been marked by injuries, was adamant that he would continue playing.
“From here on, I guess when things move forward, the right decisions will be made because what I want is to continue playing tennis,” he said.
Last year Nadal was undefeated heading into Indian Wells, having posted victories in an Australian Open tune-up in Melbourne before rallying from two sets down to beat Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open final.
He won the ATP tournament in Acapulco and reached the final at Indian Wells, where he was stunned by American Taylor Fritz in the final as he battled a rib injury.
He returned to win his 22nd Grand Slam title at Roland Garros, a record that Novak Djokovic has since matched.
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