The tennis world is impatiently awaiting Rafael Nadal’s decision on whether to defend his French Open title on Thursday, as suspicions increase that the king of clay is nearing the end of his career.
The 14-time Roland Garros champion was keen to compete in Paris, but it appears that his hip ailment will prohibit him from defending his title.
At 4 p.m. (1400 GMT), Nadal will hold a press conference at his Rafa Nadal Academy in Manacor, Mallorca, where he has been working to prepare for the French Open, which he has not missed since his winning debut in 2005.
After the problem he sustained in January at the Australian Open, he scratched warm-up events from his calendar like dominoes dropping.
After skipping the hard-court Masters events in the United States, Indian Wells and Miami, Nadal was still unprepared for the clay season, missing Monte Carlo, Barcelona, and then the Madrid Open.
The Italian Open was Nadal’s last chance to establish his fitness before Roland Garros, but the 36-year-old was forced to withdraw despite saying his new treatment program was working.
“He will miss the most important tournament of his career,” wrote Spanish sports website Relevo on Wednesday, with other Spanish outlets following suit.
Despite the reports, Nadal’s spokesman said his decision and the reasons for it would only be known once the player spoke on Thursday.