Nadal to miss Wimbledon to focus on Olympics

Spain’s Rafael Nadal. (Photograph: Tertius Pickard / AFP)

Rafael Nadal confirmed on Thursday he will miss Wimbledon to focus on the Paris Olympics, which will be played on the clay courts at Roland Garros.

The announcement came a day after Spanish tennis chiefs said the 14-time French Open champion would team up with Carlos Alcaraz at the Games in the French capital, which start late next month.

Nadal, 38, lost in the first round at Roland Garros last month and indicated he was likely to skip Wimbledon, played on grasscourts, where he was champion in 2008 and 2010.

The injury-plagued Spaniard, who has slumped to 264 in the world rankings, said after his exit to eventual runner-up Alexander Zverev in Paris that switching surfaces would not be “smart”.

“It looks difficult to make a transition to grass, having the Olympics again on clay,” he said at the time.

The former world number one, who won the Olympics singles title in Beijing in 2008, only returned to competition in April after missing most of the past 16 months through injury.

On Thursday he confirmed on social media that he would not be travelling to London to take part in the third Grand Slam of the year.

“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,” he tweeted.

“It was announced yesterday that I will play at the summer Olympics in Paris, my last Olympics.”

He added: “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.”

Nadal, who teamed up with Marc Lopez to win the Olympic doubles title at the 2016 Rio Games, will warm up for Paris at the Bastad clay court tournament in Sweden, which starts on July 15.

The veteran, second on the all-time list of men’s Grand Slam winners behind Novak Djokovic, will form a doubles team at the Olympics with newly crowned French Open champion and reigning Wimbledon champion Alcaraz.

Both will also compete in singles at the tennis tournament in Paris, which starts on July 27.

Nadal, who has a 7-5 win-loss record this year, said before the start of the recent French Open that there was a chance he might not be back at Roland Garros but insisted he was still keeping the door “100 percent open” on continuing his career.

His withdrawal from Wimbledon, which starts on July 1, is a big blow for organisers, with Djokovic a major doubt after undergoing a knee operation.