London: Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from next week’s Wimbledon warm-up event at Queen’s Club as the World No 1 takes a break following his latest French Open triumph.
Nadal crushed Dominic Thiem to clinch his 11th French Open title on Sunday, but the Spaniard hinted after the final that the toll on his body might force him to miss part of the grass-court campaign.
The 32-year-old is drained after playing 27 matches on clay over the last two months and, after consulting with his medical team, he confirmed on Wednesday that he won’t play at Queen’s this year.
“Queen’s is a great event, I have happy memories of winning the title in 2008 and I wanted to come back this year. But it has been a very long clay court season for me with great results,” Nadal said in a statement released by tournament organisers.
“I would like to say sorry to the tournament organisers and most of all to the fans that were hoping to see me play, but I have spoken to my doctors and I need to listen to what my body is telling me.”
Nadal has admitted he finds it hard to make the transition from clay to grass, with the low bounce on the surface in England often threatening to aggravate the knee injuries that have plagued him in the latter stages of his glittering career.
It is the third consecutive year Nadal has entered the tournament only to pull out before it has started.
“We are obviously disappointed that Rafa has decided that he is unable to play this year, but we wish him well and hope to see him on our courts in the future,” said tournament director Stephen Farrow.
Nadal’s absence from the west London event will raise doubts about his chances of winning Wimbledon for a third time.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion last won at the All England Club in 2010 and hasn’t been past the last 16 since 2011.