Rafael Nadal has become the latest big name to announce his withdrawal from the 2021 US Open - and the remainder of the season - as the Spaniard continues to struggle with a foot injury.
It appeared telling that the Spaniard entered the 2021 Balearic Golf Championship, which runs just a week before the US Open, and it is now clear that he was simply unable to shake off the issues with his left foot.
The 35-year-old had already disclosed that he had sustained the latest version of the injury at the French Open in June and aggravated it during a second-round win over Jack Sock in Washington. He had been attempting to recuperate in Mallorca to "be better again".
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The four-time champion at Flushing Meadows was forced to miss both Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics through injury after losing to world number one Novak Djokovic in a dramatic semi-final at the French Open.
Nadal did make a brief return at the ATP 500 event in Washington but could not sustain his fitness and had to pull out of both the Toronto and Cincinnati Masters.
One of the reasons the Spaniard returned to Mallorca after flying out to North America was to consult with his doctor before making his final call on whether or not to play at the US Open. That decision has now been made.
"Hello everyone: I wanted to inform you that unfortunately I have to end the 2021 season," Nadal began in a statement posted on social media.
Honestly, I have been suffering much more than I should with my foot for a year and I need to take some time.
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"To find a solution to this problem, or at least improve it in order to continue to have options for the following years, I have the maximum enthusiasm to do whatever it takes to recover in the best possible shape.
"To keep competing for the things that really motivate me and the things that I've done all these years. I am 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. Thank you in advance for all the support, understanding and all your expressions of affection that are very important in difficult times like these.
"I promise you what I am going to do is work hard to try to continue enjoying this sport for a while longer. A big hug to all."
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The 20-time Grand Slam champion is far from the only big name struggling to shake off injuries at this late stage in what has been an unusually chaotic and compressed schedule in the calendar.
Roger Federer is facing "many months” on the sidelines and will miss the US Open after confirming he is set for another knee operation.
The Swiss legend made a return to tennis earlier in the summer and advanced to the quarter-finals of Wimbledon before losing to Hubert Hurkacz. His aim had been to appear at the US Open later this month, but he was forced to concede defeat.
Defending champion Dominic Thiem, meanwhile, will also miss out due to his persistent wrist injury. The Austrian ruled out a defence of his crown, and the rest of the season, on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old suffered the issue in June at the Mallorca Open, having endured a tough year after securing his first Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows last year.
Djokovic also pulled out of the Cincinnati event in order to spend time with his family and recuperate, but he still remains on course to compete as he bids to become only the sixth singles player in history to complete a calendar Grand Slam.
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Serena Williams, a six-time champion in New York, was another star who was unable to compete in Cincinnati. The 39-year-old suffered a leg injury after slipping on Centre Court against Aliaksandra Sasnovich at Wimbledon in June and, instead of playing in the WTA Premier 5 event, she will continue to focus on her recovery.
Serena's sister Venus also pulled out for an undisclosed reason, while 2019 semi-finalist Sofia Kenin withdrew with a foot injury. Meanwhile, Simona Halep was forced to pull out of the second round with a thigh injury.
The Romanian and former world number one withdrew after suffering an injury in her first-round win over Poland's Magda Linette. She had only just returned to the court after picking up an injury in Rome that forced her to miss out on Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the Olympics.
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