Rafael Nadal’s Injury Forces Star to Wait for US Open

Rafael Nadal’s ankle has “deteriorated” and the legendary Spaniard has been ruled out of the remainder of 2017, including this month’s French Open, the Tennis Channel reported Wednesday.

The 31-year-old was disappointed with his performance in the Rome Masters, where he lost to Austria’s Dominic Thiem and fell from the third to the fifth in the world rankings.

But on Tuesday, Nadal withdrew from the Madrid Open, his second tournament of the clay-court season, citing his right foot. It was the latest in a series of injuries that have hampered the star’s recent form.

The US Open will be his first competition since the US Open in September, when he lost to Novak Djokovic in the final. A subsequent foot injury sidelined him for seven months before he returned in April.

The Spanish No. 1 is still considered by many tennis pundits as the best in the game and his loss of form on clay has raised a lot of questions about his legacy.

Nadal has won 18 Grand Slam titles, more than any other man in history, in a run of unparalleled success. In the past three years, Nadal has won the French Open twice and the US Open twice.

He will now have to recuperate from his latest injury before going to the US Open.

“I could never play without the pain, but this pain is not normal,” Nadal said Wednesday, according to the BBC. “And being able to play without pain is something I’ve not been able to do during the last 10 years, so I decided to accept it, and I hope to be able to play better and better in the future.”

Nadal appeared in Rome on Monday, but lasted only two games before he retired against Thiem. At 34 years old, the Spaniard never gave up hope that he could return to his No. 1 status in 2017.

But he had been due to play his final Masters Series event, at the Paris Masters, but the tournament did not give him permission to play until after the French Open.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

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