Nadal pulls out of Croatia Open

Nadal pulls out of Croatia Open
By Reuters

25/07/2005 at 11:23Updated

French Open champion Rafael Nadal pulled out of the Croatia Open on Monday less than 24 hours after winning his eighth claycourt title of the year. The Spaniard aggravated a knee injury during his Stuttgart Cup final victory on Sunday.

"Rafael called from Stuttgart and said he was awfully sorry but that he couldn`t play because of a knee injury," tournament director Slavko Rasberger told reporters in Umag.

"He played the last three matches with the help of injections and said he cannot do it any more."

The injury, however, did not prevent the 19-year-old from joining world number one Roger Federer as the only two players to have qualified for the elite eight-man Masters Cup finale in Shanghai.

"For me it's a dream. Now I'm amongst the eight best players in the world, which is very important to me," Nadal said in a statement after climbing to a career-best second in the world rankings."

Nadal produced another stellar performance in Stuttgart, where he defeated Gaston Gaudio 6-3 6-3 6-4 in the final.

The win improved his 2005 claycourt record to 48-2 and extended his winning streak on the surface to 34.

Nadal, who in June became the first debutant since Mats Wilander in 1982 to win the men's singles crown at Roland Garros, is second in the ATP Race, more than 250 points clear of third-placed American Andy Roddick.

The Mallorcan, the youngest qualifier for the year-ending event since Andrei Medvedev in 1993, is only the third teenager - after Boris Becker and Bjorn Borg - to reach second in the world rankings since the system was introduced in 1973.

The top seven players in the ATP 2005 Race plus eligible grand slam champions qualify for the eight man round-robin event from November 13-20.