Rafael Nadal withdraws from the French Open and sets retirement date

Rafael Nadal won’t be able to go for a 15th French Open crown  (Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal won’t be able to go for a 15th French Open crown (Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the French Open due to injury and will not defend his title at Roland Garros, as well as setting a potential retirement date from tennis.

The 14-time French Open champion has not played since suffering a left hip flexor injury at the Australian Open in January and announced his decision to pull out of the upcoming tournament at a press conference at his tennis academy in Manacor on Thursday.

It will be the first time since the Spaniard won the first of his French Open titles in 2005 that Nadal will be absent from the grand slam.

The 36-year-old has in recent weeks been forced to pull out of events in Madrid, Monte Carlo and Rome as he battled to be ready for the French Open.

But the tournament, which gets underway in Paris on Sunday 28 May, has come too soon for the 22-time grand slam winner and he admits that if he’s able to return from the injury, 2024 will be his final year as a professional.

"The injury has not evolved as we expected," admitted Nadal in a press conference held at his tennis academy in Mallorca. "I will not be at Roland Garros and I do not intend to continue playing in the coming months.

"It has been difficult for me to find consistency because of my condition. And that has transferred to my personal life, where I'm not happy with how it is affecting me day to day.

"I need to put a full stop to my tennis career for the moment. I am going to let my body recover and, when I feel ready, I will start again.

"It is my aim to try and play the Davis Cup and prepare for 2024, which will be the last year of my tennis career. "I won't play Roland Garros, I won't play for a few months and if I come back, next year will be my last year."