Tennis: Rafael Nadal ends 2021 season prematurely over foot issue

Rafael Nadal (pictured) will join his great rival Roger Federer in skipping the year's last Grand Slam. PHOTO: AFP

(REUTERS) - Spaniard Rafael Nadal said on Friday (Aug 20) that he will end his 2021 season early due to a foot injury that has been troubling him for a year.

The world No. 4 suffered a shock exit in Washington this month, where he kicked off his lead-up to the US Open, the final Grand Slam of the year, and pulled out of the Cincinnati Masters and the Canadian Open.

"I wanted to inform you that unfortunately I have to end the 2021 season. Honestly, I have been suffering much more than I should with my foot for a year and I need to take some time," he tweeted.

The recurring issue flared up at the French Open, where he fell to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals.

"Honestly, I have been suffering much more than I should with my foot for a year and I need to take some time... to find a solution to this problem or at least improve it in order to continue to have options for the next few years," Nadal said.

"I'm with the maximum enthusiasm and predisposition to do whatever it takes to recover the best possible shape to keep competing for the things that really motivate me.

"I'm convinced that with the recovery of the foot and obviously a very important daily effort... this can be achieved. I will work as hard as I can to make it happen."

The news means he joins his great rival Roger Federer in skipping the year's last Grand Slam, the US Open which begins in New York on Aug 30.

On Sunday, Federer had announced that he would miss the US Open and expected to be out of tennis for many months as he will undergo knee surgery.

It is the second straight year in which the duo will be out of the hard-court Grand Slam, with Nadal missing the previous edition due to Covid-19 concerns and Federer opting out due to surgery.

Austria's Dominic Thiem will also not defend his title at this year's US Open due to a wrist injury, leaving world No. 1 Novak Djokovic as the favourite to claim the title and complete a calendar Grand Slam.

Join ST's Telegram channel here and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.