Rafael Nadal has confirmed that he has been forced to pull out of the US Open with a wrist injury, and he will not be back to defend his title.
The Spaniard picked up the injury while training in his native Majorca in July, and he missed the recent Masters Series events in Toronto and Cincinnati.
Missing since Wimbledon
The world number two is yet to play since his shock loss to Australian wildcard Nick Kyrgios in the fourth round at Wimbledon in July, though it was initially reported that his recovery was going as planned.
But the 28-year-old said last week that he was undecided on whether he would be fit in time for the last Grand Slam of the year, which begins next Monday.
Nadal announced on his Facebook page that he will not be able to attempt to win his third title at Flushing Meadows this year, and he apologised to his fans.
The 14-time Grand Slam winner wrote in Spanish, but his announcement can be translated as: “I am very sorry to announce I won’t be able to play at this year’s US Open a tournament in which I’ve played in three consecutive finals.
“I am sure you understand that it is a very tough moment for me since it is a tournament I love and where I have great memories from fans, the night matches, so many things.
“Not much more I can do right now, other than accept the situation and, as always in my case, work hard in order to be able to compete at the highest level once I am back.”
Nadal won his second title in New York in 2013, when he defeated Serbian Novak Djokovic in a four set final, in a repeat of the 2010 final, where the Majorcan won in the same number of sets to complete his career Grand Slam.
The news of his withdrawal from the tournament will shorten the odds of winning the tournament for the likes of Djokovic and Switzerland’s Roger Federer, who will now be the second seed behind Djokovic when the draw is made this week.
It is unknown when Nadal will return to action, or whether he will be able to take part in the ATP World Tour Finals in London in November.
Should he be fit for the tournament at the 02 Arena, then he will be looking to sign off well at the end of a mixed year by his standards, despite winning a record ninth French Open title in June, where he beat Djokovic in the final.
He also reached the final of the Australian Open in January, where he was beaten by Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka, as a series of back spasms hampered his performance in a four set loss.
While he has also won titles in Doha, Rio de Janeiro and Madrid, he would have been disappointed with his failure to make the quarter-finals of a Wimbledon for the third consecutive year, which forced him to lose his spot at the top of the ATP rankings.
Nadal is currently three Grand Slam titles behind Federer’s record of 17 Grand Slams, and he will not have an opportunity to close the gap on the world number three until the 2015 Australian Open.