This is the part of the “Big 3” era where they pick their spots and preserve their bodies.
So it’s not a complete shock that Rafael Nadal announced Thursday that in the wake of his semifinal loss to Novak Djokovic last Friday in Paris, he has made the decision to take a break.
The world No. 3 will skip Wimbledon and the Olympics, and return for the hard-court summer in North America.
He announced the decision on social media Thursday morning.
Nadal announces break on Twitter
“Hi all, I have decided not to participate at this year’s Championships at Wimbledon and the Olympic Games in Tokyo. It’s never an easy decision to take but after listening to my body and discuss(ing) it with my team I understand that it is the right decision.
“The goal is to prolong my career and continue to do what makes me happy, that is to compete at the highest level and keep fighting for those professional and personal goals at the maximum level of competition.
“The fact that there has only been two weeks between RG and Wimbledon, didn’t make it easier on my body to recuperate after the always demanding clay court season. They have been two months of great effort and the decision I take is focused looking at the mid- and long term.
“Sport prevention of any kind of excess in my body is a very important factor at this stage of my career in order to try to keep fighting for the highest level of competition and titles.
“The Olympic Games always meant a lot and they were always a priority as a Sports person, I found the spirit that every sports person in the world wants to live. I personally had the chance to live 3 of them and had the honor to be the flag bearer for my country.“
Hi all, I have decided not to participate at this year’s Championships at Wimbledon and the Olympic Games in Tokyo. It’s never an easy decision to take but after listening to my body and discuss it with my team I understand that it is the right decision— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) June 17, 2021
At 35, choices to be made
The clay-court season – the bread and butter for Nadal – seemed particularly wearing on him this year.
He won Barcelona purely on competitive grit, then looked very good in Rome.
At Roland Garros, he lost that extraordinary semifinal match to Novak Djokovic – four hours and 11 minutes for four sets. The third set, notably, was iconic for the ridiculous level of tennis played by both.
It was clear in the fourth set of that match that he was almost running on one leg. And no doubt whatever that physical issue is, it might have been worse than he let on.
Roland – Wimbledon transition much harder
In his early days, Nadal would win Roland Garros. And then the next day, you’d see him on the lawns at Queen’s Club practicing on the grass and preparing for Wimbledon.
There was only a two-week gap between the two tournament in those days. That was expanded to three a few years ago. But this year, with Roland Garros having been pushed forward a week to take advantage of the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions in France, it was back to two weeks.
At any rate, Nadal had never entered Queen’s or Halle (or even the newly-relocated men’s grass-court tournament in his home of Mallorca next week).