Nadal injury forces Monte-Carlo Masters withdrawal to spark French Open fears

Rafael Nadal’s ongoing injury problems have forced him to withdraw from the 2023 Monte-Carlo Masters to spark fears he may miss the French Open.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion has not played since crashing out of the Australian Open in the second round in January.

Nadal, 36, picked up a hip flexor problem which was meant to rule him out for six to eight weeks, but he has still not returned to professional tennis.

The Spaniard missed the Sunshine Double but was expected to return for the clay-court season – the surface on which he has enjoyed the most career success.

But Nadal has confirmed that he will not be back for the Masters 1000 event in Monte-Carlo on April 10, a key tournament in the build-up to Roland-Garros, while his Spanish compatriot Carlos Alcaraz also misses out with injury.

The French Open, where Nadal has won a record 14 men’s major titles and is the defending champion, gets started at the end of May and there is still time for him to squeeze in a run of events before then.

The Madrid Open and Italian Open come first and Nadal hopes to ‘return soon’ but also recently admitted he doesn’t know when he will play again.

Always a pleasure, @RafaelNadal 🫶#AusOpen • #AO2023

‘Hi everyone, I’m still not ready to compete at the highest level,’ Nadal posted on Twitter on Tuesday.

‘I will not be able to play in one of the most important tournaments of my career, Monte Carlo.

‘I am not yet in a position to play with the maximum guarantees and I continue my preparation process, hoping to return soon.’

Nadal, speaking to Spanish outlet Marca in March, said: ‘I’m following my course and I don’t know when I’ll play again, that’s the truth.’

There have been rumours circulating that Nadal may soon retire from tennis, after fellow great Roger Federer hung up his racket last year.

Nadal, who was left ‘destroyed mentally’ after the Australian Open, became a father in October and is expected to spend less time on the ATP Tour than ever.

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