Thu, Mar 01, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Rafael Nadal withdraws as injured hip flares up

AFP, ACAPULCO, Mexico

World No. 2 Rafael Nadal on Tuesday pulled out of the Mexican Open, cutting short his comeback from an injury when his ailing right hip flared up again.

“My goal and hope was to play in this tournament. Unfortunately, in my last training session yesterday, I felt a sharp pain in my leg again,” the 31-year-old Spanish star said hours before what was to have been his opening match of the ATP Tour event in Acapulco.

Nadal, favored to win the tournament and champion in 2005 and 2013, had been due to face fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.

“I took all the appropriate steps to arrive at the tournament in form. I went to Cozumel first, to adapt [to the climate],” Nadal told reporters. “But yesterday, in my last training session before the tournament, during one movement I felt a sharp pain again in the same area where I had the problem in Australia.”

Nadal on Jan. 23 limped out of the quarter-finals at the Australian Open. He has since lost his No. 1 ranking to Roger Federer.

He said doctors in Mexico warned him not to play for fear of aggravating the injury.

“I still don’t know what it is, because we don’t know. It seems it’s not as bad as what I had at the Australian Open,” Nadal said. “Now, my main goal is to find out the extent of the injury.”

This marks the sixth tournament in a row that Nadal has pulled out of or retired from — the Australian Open, Brisbane, London, Paris, Basel and Acapulco.

The 16-time Grand Slam winner previously announced himself fully fit and said he was looking forward to competing in his second event of this year.

“I took a couple of weeks of rest and worked hard on rehabilitation,” Nadal said earlier in the week. “Last week, I started practicing hard again. I feel ready.”

He is expected to remain at least one more day in Acapulco to have more tests done.

“Maybe it is a minor situation, but the reality is that there is liquid and until it goes down a bit and the relevant tests are done, it will not be possible to diagnose,” Nadal said.

While a victory this week would not have been good enough to surpass Federer, it would leave Nadal primed to replace the Swiss star at Indian Wells or Miami next month.

The 2008 Olympic gold medal winner is known as the “King of Clay” and is considered the greatest clay-court player in the history of the sport.

Nadal, who turns 32 in June, ended last year as the oldest year-end world No. 1 in the 45-year history of the ATP rankings.

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