Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the U.S. Open, saying that he is not ready to play in the season's final Grand Slam that starts at the end of the month.
Nadal made the announcement on Wednesday through his Twitter account, expressing his sadness in explaining that he won't be able to play at Flushing Meadows.
This news hardly comes out of left field. Despite still only being 26 Nadal has been plagued by issues with his knees over the years. He already had to pass on the Olympics where he was slated to be the flag-bearer for Spain and skip the hard-court tune-up in Cincinnati with the soreness. The U.S. Open becomes the latest casualty.
"Rafa has informed us that he will not be ready to compete at the U.S. Open this year," tournament director David Brewer said.
Back in 2009 Nadal had to skip on another Grand Slam tournament, Wimbledon, with recurring knee tendinitis issues. The break he took from the sport at the time seemed to help him recover as he won three majors in 2010 alone, including his first and only U.S. Open title to finish off the career Grand Slam.
Nadal was the runner-up last year, losing to Novak Djokovic in the final in four sets. After years of struggling in Flushing Meadows it seemed like Nadal was finally translating his success at other venues to the U.S. Open with strong showings in recent years. Unfortunately for him that won't be continuing this year.
The last time we saw Nadal playing he suffered a stunning loss in the second round of Wimbledon. He lost to the Czech Republic's Lukas Rosol in five sets in what was one of the biggest upsets in a Grand Slam as Rosol was then ranked No. 100 in the world.
Among the many trademarks of Nadal's game is the relentless chasing and defending he does. On the clay it obviously works well with his ability to skid to stop, it's a lot more forgiving on the knees. But when he plays the same way on the hard courts it puts a lot of pressure on his knees, causing the lingering issues.
Nadal is still ranked third in the world behind Roger Federer and Djokovic but is going to lose a lot of points by not defending his finalist finish at the U.S. Open last year.
Regardless of who you root for it's tough to see the struggles that Nadal has been dealing with, even tougher when it is causing him to miss the biggest tournaments around. Over the years the matches he has had with Federer and Djokovic among others have produced some excellent tennis.