Rafael Nadal pulls out of Wimbledon in Olympic bid

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Rafael Nadal has likely played on the grass courts of Wimbledon for the final time after he confirmed he’d skip the tournament to focus on the Paris Olympics.

The 2024 season is shaping as a farewell to tennis for the 38-year-old Spanish champion as injury woes that have left him on the sidelines for much of the past year continue to hamper him.

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But in a move that is set to become one of the hottest tickets at the Paris Olympics, the Spanish tennis federation announced Wednesday that 14-time French Open champion Nadal and newly crowned French Open champion Carlos Alcaraz would represent the country on the Roland Garros clay.

Although Nadal lost in the first round of the recent French Open to eventual finalist Alexander Zverev, he is a beloved legend on the clay courts in Paris.

At the time, Nadal indicated he was likely to skip Wimbledon, where he was champion in 2008 and 2010.

Nadal is going all in on Olympic gold. Photo by Emmanuel Dunand / AFPSource: AFP

But the 22-time grand slam champion confirmed the news on X.

“During my post match press conference at Roland Garros I was asked about my summer calendar and since then I have been practising on clay. It was announced yesterday that I will play at the summer Olympics in Paris, my last Olympics,” he began.

“With this goal, we believe that the best for my body is not to change surface and keep playing on clay until then. It’s for this reason that I will miss playing at the Championships this year at Wimbledon.

“I am saddened not to be able to live this year the great atmosphere of that amazing event that will always be in my heart, and be with all the British fans that always gave me great support. I will miss you all.

“In order to prepare for the Olympic Games, I will play the tournament in Bastad, Sweden. A tournament that I played earlier in my career and where I had a great time both on and off the court. Looking forward to seeing you all there.

“Thank you.”

Nadal won Olympic gold in singles in 2008 at Beijing and in doubles at the 2016 Rio Games.

But Nadal and his heir apparent in Alcaraz teaming up at the Olympics is a tantalising prospect.

Even Alcaraz is pumped about the news.

“I would prefer to win the Olympic gold over Wimbledon,” Alcaraz said.

“Fighting for a gold medal for my country, playing doubles with my idol, Rafael Nadal, are things that I will only believe after experiencing them.”

Spanish national team coach David Ferrer confirmed the pair would play doubles together.

“Rafa and Carlos will be playing together in Paris,” he said.

“We have a great team and we are going to play at Roland-Garros, the court that Nadal and Alcaraz know so well. We hope to bring joy to Spanish sport.”

But while the world believes Nadal will end his illustrious career this season, the legend has not yet ruled out returning for another season in 2025.

Nadal refuses to give a definitive answer. Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFPSource: AFP

Although he has also taken victory laps — particularly at his home in Madrid where he said it was “important for me to play one last time” — he has also refused to shut the door on playing on.

After his French Open exit, Nadal said: “For me, it’s difficult to say what’s going on in the future.

“It’s a big percentage that I will not be back here playing in Roland Garros, but I can’t say 100 per cent, no?

“I enjoy a lot playing a lot here, I’m travelling with the family and I’m having fun. And the body is feeling a little bit better than two months ago so I think, maybe in two months, I say it’s enough. I can’t give anything else.”

But Nadal has also suffered persistent injuries, including a hip complaint that saw him miss most of the 2023 season.

“My body has been a jungle for two years. You don’t know what to expect. I wake up one day and I find a snake biting me. Another day a tiger,” he joked after his French Open exit.

“I’ve been fighting with all the things that I went through. But the dynamic is positive the last few weeks. I felt ready. I think tomorrow I’ll be ready to play again if I have to. But I will not have to.

“Now, I need to prepare myself, I need to clear my ideas and see what’s the new calendar to try to be ready for the Olympics. My main goal now is to play in the Olympics. If it’s the last time that I played here, I am at peace with myself.”

With AFP

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