Five thoughts on Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal from the London Olympics.
The tennis world, and tennis twitterverse, was swept into mutual grief as Rafael Nadal announced that he would not be competing at the Olympic tennis event at Wimbledon, stating that it was “one of the saddest days of my career”, and that he was not physically fit to defend his gold medal. “I didn’t find myself in a fit enough condition to compete in the Olympics,” Nadal said. “I had to think of my teammates, I could not be egotistical. I had to think about Spanish sport, especially tennis, to allow a teammate of mine to play who is better prepared and in the right shape to compete.”
It is the second time Nadal has been forced to withdraw from defending an event at the All England Club, the Spaniard forced to withdraw from his title defence at The Championships in 2009. As at this juncture, Nadal waited until a week before the tournament to announce his withdrawal, attempting to give his body as much time as possible to recover.
Once again, it is Nadal’s troublesome knees that have proved his undoing. Nadal said in a statement following his loss to Lukas Rosol in the second round of this year’s Championships at Wimbledon that doctors had advised him to take two weeks off to recover from tendinitis in his knees, and he cancelled his planned exhibition with Novak Djokovic as a result. It begs the question once again how long Nadal’s knees will last before he is forced to call a halt on his playing career entirely. It also calls into question whether the Spaniard will ever compete at another Olympics. By the time 2016 rolls around, in Rio de Janeiro, Nadal will be 30. What state will the knees be in by then?
Nadal,who was also due to carry the Spanish flag during the Olympics opening ceremony next Friday night, will be replaced in the men’s singles event by the Spanish No 3, Feliciano Lopez. Lopez was said to have been distraught at not making it to the Games in the first place, but will no doubt be saddened by the manner in which his competing at the Games has become possible.
Nadal’s withdrawal opens up the field at the Games for a new gold medallist, with Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray the most likely to benefit from the Spaniard’s absence. The most high-profile absence from the Games to date, it was also announced this week that neither Andrea Petkovic or Kaia Kanepi will be fit to compete.