Toronto, Aug 10 (EFE).- Defending champion Rafael Nadal bowed out of the 2021 Canadian Open on Tuesday to deal with a nagging foot injury.
The Spaniard was set to begin his title defense on Wednesday against South Africa’s Lloyd Harris, the same player who eliminated him last week from the Citi Open in Washington.
Compatriot Feliciano Lopez will take the place of the world No. 4 in the main draw, tournament organizers said.
“I have had this issue for a couple of months, as people know,” Nadal said in video posted on Twitter. “Of course, it is not a happy situation after all the success that I had here in Canada, not being able to play this year after missing a year.”
Nadal has lifted the Canadian Open trophy five times, most recently in 2019. The tournament was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic.
The 35-year-old traditionally began his preparations for the US Open, the season’s final Grand Slam event, by taking part in the Canadian Open.
This year, however, he opted to arrive in North America earlier than usual and compete in Washington, where he was in action for the first time since a four-set defeat at the hands of Serbian world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the semifinals of the French Open on June 11.
Shortly after suffering just the third loss of his illustrious career at Roland Garros, the 13-time French Open champion announced that he had chosen to withdraw from both Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics.
“I need to go back and try to find a way to be better again. At the end of the day, for me the most important thing is to enjoy playing tennis. Today, with this pain, I am not able to enjoy it, and I really don’t believe that I have the chance to fight for the things that I really need to fight for,” Nadal said Tuesday.
At Sunday’s pre-tournament press conference in Toronto, Nadal said he was hoping to use his participation in the Canadian Open to regain “positive feelings” with his injured foot.
“I really need to have a couple of weeks with less pain to have the confidence again on my movements, knowing that I will be able to go out and compete for a long time,” he said. “That’s something that I am looking for in this tournament.”
If Nadal is fit in time for the Aug. 30-Sept. 12 US Open, he will be seeking an unprecedented 21st Grand Slam men’s singles title.
Nadal, Djokovic and Roger Federer currently share the men’s Slam record. EFE