BREAKING: Rafael Nadal pulls out of Australian Open due to ‘micro tear on a muscle’
Rafael Nadal will not play in the 2024 Australian Open, having returned to Spain to receive treatment on his troublesome hip.
The two-time champion at Melbourne Park made his return to tennis after a near 12-month absence at the Brisbane International, losing at the quarter-final stage in three sets to Australian Jordan Thompson.
During the match, Nadal required treatment having appeared to reaggravate the hip injury that sidelined him for almost the entirety of 2023.
He has since taken to social media to confirm he will miss the Australian Open, a major blow ahead of a tournament where the popular 37-year old was set to be a major drawcard in what could be his final tour down under.
“During my last match in Brisbane I had a small problem on a muscle that as you know made me worried,” Nadal wrote.
“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.
“I have worked very hard during the year for this comeback and as I always mentioned my goal is to be at my best level in 3 months. Within the sad news for me for not being able to play in front of the amazing Melbourne crowds, this is not very bad news and we all remain positive with the evolution for the season.
“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. Thanks all for the support and see you soon! Rafa.”
Nadal, who won the 2009 and 2022 Australian Open titles while losing finals in 2012, 2014, 2017 and 2019, originally injured his hip during a disastrous loss to Mackenzie McDonald at last year’s tournament, sidelining him for the remainder of the season.
His return to tennis in Brisbane began smoothly with wins over Dominic Thiem and Jason Kubler before his loss to Thompson, in which he required a medical timeout and looked hampered before going down 7-5, 6-7 (8), 3-6.
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“I hope it’s not important and I hope to have the chance to be practising next week and to play Melbourne. Honestly, I am not 100 per cent sure of anything now,” Nadal said of the injury after the match.
His absence will mark the first time since 2013 the Spaniard hasn’t featured at the Australian Open, leaving reigning champion and 10-time winner Novak Djokovic as the last member of the famed ‘Big Three’ – himself, Nadal and the retired Roger Federer – competing at Melbourne Park.
Nadal’s withdrawal will see the top-ranked player in the qualifying draw, Quentin Halys, take his place in the main draw, where the veteran had planned to request a protected ranking due to his time off the tour.
The Australian Open begins on Sunday, January 14.