Citing bad back, Rafael Nadal out of Rotterdam tournament

Sports

Spain’s Rafael Nadal reacts after losing a point against Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021.(AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)

Rafael Nadal pulled out of next week’s hard-court tournament at Rotterdam, Netherlands, because of the bad back that bothered him during the Australian Open.

Nadal’s withdrawal from the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament was announced Thursday.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion wrote in a series of posts on Twitter that he “found a temporary solution that allowed me to play without pain in the second week” of the Australian Open, where he lost in the quarterfinals to Stefanos Tsitsipas in five sets.

But, one of Nadal’s tweets said, “Once I got back to Spain I visited my doctor and together with my team they’ve advised not to play this upcoming week. I was really looking forward to coming back to Rotterdam and The Netherlands since it’s been a while (since) I played there.”

The second-ranked Nadal would have been seeded No. 1 in Rotterdam. Instead, third-ranked Daniil Medvedev, the runner-up to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open, will take the top spot in the seedings.

If Medvedev reaches the final in Rotterdam, he would replace Nadal at No. 2 in the rankings, according to the ATP Tour. That would allow Medvedev to become the first man other than Nadal, Djokovic, Roger Federer or Andy Murray to be in the ATP’s Top 2 since Lleyton Hewitt was second to Federer in July 2005.

Nadal cited the back issue when he sat out the ATP Cup team competition at Melbourne Park that preceded the Australian Open.

The 34-year-old Spaniard then was able to participate in the year’s first Grand Slam tournament, which began Feb. 8.

He entered the Australian Open with a chance to break his tie with Federer for the most major singles championships won by a man.

During that event, though, Nadal said his back prevented him from practicing properly for about three weeks and that he frequently needed to skip training sessions on the days he did not have matches.

After winning his first four outings, all in straight sets — and calling his opening set against Fabio Fognini in the fourth round “without a doubt” his “best level in the tournament” — Nadal took a two-set lead against Tsitsipas in the quarterfinals last week.

Nadal had been 223-1 in Grand Slam matches when leading two sets to none, but he faltered in the third-set tiebreaker with some uncharacteristically poor play and wound up losing to Tsitsipas 3-6, 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4, 7-5.

Nadal was among the men on the entry list released Thursday for the Miami Open, which runs March 22 to April 4. Federer, who has been sidelined for more than a year after two knee operations, and Djokovic are also in the field for Miami.

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