Nadal, Osaka withdraw from Wimbledon

LONDON (AFP) – Rafael Nadal and Naomi Osaka, with 24 Grand Slam titles between them, both withdrew from Wimbledon on Thursday with the Spanish star also pulling out of the Tokyo Olympics in a bid “to prolong my career”.

Nadal’s snub of the Olympics was later followed by world number five Dominic Thiem also withdrawing from Tokyo.

Osaka, however, said she still intended to take part in her home Olympics.

The 35-year-old Nadal, who won Olympic gold and Wimbledon in 2008, triumphing again at the All England Club two years later, revealed his decision on Twitter.

“I have decided not to participate at this year’s Championships at Wimbledon and the Olympic Games in Tokyo,” he tweeted.

“It’s never an easy decision to take but after listening to my body and discussing it with my team, I understand that it is the right decision.”

Rafael Nadal waves after losing to Novak Djokovic in their semifinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium. PHOTO: AP

World number one Novak Djokovic last week ended Nadal’s four-year reign as French Open champion to seal his 19th Grand Slam.

“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,” said Nadal.

The former world number one said the shorter break between the French Open and Wimbledon this year – Roland Garros was pushed back by a week – had influenced his decision.

Nadal is a double Olympic champion, having won gold in singles in Beijing 2008 and in doubles with Marc Lopez in Rio 2016, when he also carried Spain’s flag in the opening ceremony.

Japanese star Osaka also pulled the plug on the All England Club, just two weeks after withdrawing from the French Open citing her struggle with depression and anxiety.

“Naomi won’t be playing Wimbledon this year,” Osaka’s agent Stuart Duguid said in an email to AFP. “She is taking some personal time with friends and family.

“She will be ready for the Olympics and is excited to play in front of her home fans.”