Nadal, Osaka in Wimbledon withdrawals

    Rafael Nadal and Naomi Osaka, with 24 Grand Slam titles between them, both left Wimbledon on Thursday, while the Spanish star also left the Tokyo Olympics in an attempt to “extend my career”.

    Nadal’s Olympic victory was later followed by world number five Dominic Thiem, who also left Tokyo.

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    However, Osaka said it still intended to participate in its Olympic Games.

    Nadal, 35, who won Olympic gold and Wimbledon in 2008, winning again at the All England Club two years later, revealed his decision on Twitter.

    “I have decided not to participate in this year’s Wimbledon Championships and the Tokyo Olympics,” he said on Twitter.

    “It is never an easy decision, but after listening to my body and discussing it with my team, I understand that it is the right decision.”

    World number one Novak Djokovic last week ended Nadal’s four-year reign as French Open champion and continued to seal the 19th Grand Slam.

    “The goal is to extend my career and continue to do what makes me happy, that is, to strive for the highest level and to continue to strive for these professional and personal goals at the highest level of competition,” said Nadal.

    The former world number one said that the shorter break between the French Open and Wimbledon this year — Roland Garros fell a week back – had influenced his decision.

    Nadal is a two-time Olympic champion, having won gold in singles in Beijing in 2008 and doubles with Marc Lopez in Rio in 2016, when he also carried the Spanish flag at the opening ceremony.

    – «Taking personal time –

    Japanese star Osaka also dropped out of the All England Club just two weeks after leaving the French Open citing her struggle with depression and anxiety.

    “Naomi will not play at Wimbledon this year,” Osaka agent Stuart Duginid told AFP in an email. He takes some personal time with friends and relatives.

    “She will be ready for the Olympics and she is excited to play in front of her fans.”

    Osaka has been in the spotlight since leaving the French Open.

    She was fined $ 15,000 and threatened with foreclosure by Roland Garros after refusing to comply with media commitments.

    Osaka lost in the third round of Wimbledon in 2017 and 2018 and bowed in the first round in 2019. Last year’s tournament was canceled due to a coronavirus.

    US Open champion Thiem said he wanted to focus on Wimbledon and then defend his only Grand Slam title in New York later this summer.

    “After talking to my team and analyzing the situation, I have made the very difficult decision to leave the Games at the Tokyo Olympics,” the 27-year-old Austrian wrote on Twitter.

    “My goal is to work hard in the coming weeks, give my best at Wimbledon and keep training and hope to defend my US Open title.”

    Thiem was eliminated from the French Open in the first round despite being twice second in Paris.

    Thiem also missed the Rio 2016 Olympics over fears of the Zika virus.

    “I am young and I hope to be able to play for Austria at the 2024 Paris Olympics,” he added.

    Nadal, who will be replaced as the third seed at Wimbledon by the losing finalist of the French Open, Stefanos Tsitsipas, lost the championships in London in 2004, 2009 and 2016 due to injury.

    His absence from Wimbledon means that Djokovic, 34, will be an even stronger favorite to win the tournament for the sixth time.

    Eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer, 39, is struggling to find his form after returning from knee surgery.

    He lost in the second round of the ATP grass court tournament in Halle on Wednesday after leaving before the fourth round of the French Open.

    If Djokovic wins the All England Club, he would take Nadal and Federer to 20 Grand Slam titles and require only the US Open, which starts in late August, to complete the Grand Slam calendar.