Matt Brown: Nadal's withdrawal takes everyone by surprise

By Matt Brown

Nine-time champion Rafael Nadal announces he is pulling out of the French Open because of an injury to his left wrist during a press conference. Photo / AP.
Nine-time champion Rafael Nadal announces he is pulling out of the French Open because of an injury to his left wrist during a press conference. Photo / AP.

No one saw it coming.

At 4-40pm , the French Open media centre announced Rafael Nadal would hold a press conference in the main interview room at 4-45. Social media went nuts. It could only mean one thing, Nadal was pulling out of the tournament, on a day where he wasn't scheduled to play.

Sure enough the Spaniard announced he was suffering from a left wrist injury, had had MRI scans and doctors had told him there was no way he could play five more matches at the tournament that means the most to him.

I had been most impressed watching Nadal in the first two rounds. He looked more and more like the Nadal of old, dropping just nine games in winning both matches in straight sets. There was no hint of injury, and there had been no indication in the lead up tournament inRome or indeed Madrid where Nadal says he first discovered the problem.

The world's media had been completely in the dark. Nadal himself appeared shattered at his news conference, his quest for an incredible 10th Roland Garros title over for now.

There's no guarantee he will be fit for Wimbledon, and the Spaniard who turns 30 next week but now be approaching the next phase of his career with a degree of trepidation.

Wrist problems are notoriously difficult to treat for tennis players. Think Juan Martin Del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion who has had major surgeries, but has struggled to comeback. British player Laura Robson is another, and for Nadal, it's his left wrist that's the problem, his racquet playing arm.

If Roger Federer's withdrawal just prior to the tournament was a setback, Nadal's announcement today is a body blow. In his absence the odds shorten for Novak Djokovic to finally break through and win the one Grand Slam to so far elude him. Nadal was a likely semi final opponent for the world number one.

Matt Brown is in Paris thanks to Emirates Airline.

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 04 Dec 2016 02:00:30 Processing Time: 672ms