Rafael Nadal confident of making Wimbledon despite French Open withdrawal

Nine-time champion Rafael Nadal was close to tears as he was forced out of the French Open with a wrist injury.

It is a huge blow to the Spaniard personally and also to the tournament, which lost Roger Federer to a back problem three days before the start.

This is only the second grand slam since Nadal's emergence more than a decade ago when neither he nor Federer will be in the second week.

Rafael Nadal is out of the French Open because of a wrist injury (AP)

Rafael Nadal is out of the French Open because of a wrist injury (AP)

The only other occasion, at Wimbledon in 2013, came because of shock defeats. This is more troubling and will only increase speculation about how long tennis' leading men can continue at the top of the game.

The news came as a major shock because Nadal had looked in prime form in his first two matches, losing just nine games against Sam Groth and Facundo Bagnis.

But the Spaniard, who was clearly devastated, announced at a hastily-arranged press conference that an injury he first felt in Madrid earlier this month had worsened to such an extent that he would not be able to continue.

He said: "I arrived here with a little bit of pain but it was something I was able to manage, but every day it was a little bit worse. We spent a lot of hours here working so hard to try to play.

"Yesterday I played with an injection, with anaesthetic, and I could play but yesterday night I started to feel more and more pain and this morning I felt I couldn't move the wrist.

"I had an MRI (scan) and the results are not positive. It's not broken but if I keep playing it's going to be broken the next couple of days.

"If it was not Roland Garros I would probably not take risks on playing the first two days, but it is the most important event of the year for me so we tried our best.

"When I am coming to Roland Garros, I am coming thinking about winning the tournament. To win the tournament, I need five more matches, and the doctor says that's 100 per cent impossible."

Nadal said the problem was to do with the tendon sheath in his left wrist.

He has been advised it should clear up within two to four weeks, although wrist injuries are notoriously slow to heal and he indicated three months would be a worst-case scenario.

That would rule him out of Wimbledon and the Rio Olympics, where he is due to be Spain's flag-bearer having not being able to fulfil the role in London four years ago because of injury.

But Nadal remains optimistic he will be at Wimbledon, saying : "We're going to work hard to be ready for Wimbledon. I need a couple of weeks (with the wrist) immobilised. Then we're going to do the treatment and we hope that works well.

"We expect to recover quick and to be ready for Wimbledon."

Nadal has had a catalogue of serious injury problems during his career, with his knees causing the most trouble.

His last major period of absence came in 2014, when he missed three months, including the US Open, because of right wrist problems.

He struggled throughout 2015 to recover his best form, failing to win a slam title for the first time since 2004, and this is a particularly cruel blow because it looked like he was finally close to hitting his peak again.

Nadal said: "Today is one of the toughest press conferences in my career.

"I worked so hard to recover my level, and I think I was there. I played the last month and a half at a very high level competing against everybody, and I felt myself ready for this tournament.

"But it happens what's happened. The only thing that I can say is it's bad luck and that's part of life.

"Now is a tough moment, but it is not the end. I feel myself with the right motivation and the right energy to be back in Roland Garros the next couple of years, and I really hope to keep having my chances in the future."

This is Nadal's earliest departure from the French Open, with the 29-year-old's only two defeats at Roland Garros coming in the fourth round in 2009 and the quarter-finals last year.

Fellow Spaniard Marcel Granollers, who Nadal had been due to face, receives a walkover into the fourth round, where he will play either Dominic Thiem or Alexander Zverev.

Nadal, meanwhile, was the major obstacle to Novak Djokovic reaching another final as he chases the one slam title still to elude him.

Rafael Nadal is out of the French Open because of a wrist injury

Rafael Nadal is out of the French Open because of a wrist injury

Sorry we are not currently accepting comments on this article.