Rafael Nadal. Picture: REUTERS
Rafael Nadal. Picture: REUTERS

London — Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from next week’s Wimbledon warm-up event at Queen’s Club as the tennis world’s No1 takes a break following his latest French Open triumph.

Nadal crushed Dominic Thiem to clinch his 11th French Open title on Sunday, but the Spaniard hinted after the final that the toll on his body might force him to miss part of the grass court campaign.

The 32-year-old is drained after playing 27 matches on clay over the past two months and confirmed on Wednesday that he would not play at Queen’s in 2018.

"Queen’s is a great event. I have happy memories of winning the title in 2008 and I wanted to come back this year. But it has been a very long clay court season for me with great results," Nadal said.

"I would like to say sorry to the tournament organisers and most of all to the fans that were hoping to see me play, but I have spoken to my doctors and I need to listen to what my body is telling me."

Nadal has admitted he finds it hard to make the transition from clay to grass, with the low bounce on the surface in England often threatening to aggravate the knee injuries that have plagued him in the latter stages of his glittering career.

It is the third consecutive year Nadal has entered the tournament only to pull out before it has started.

"We are disappointed that Rafa has decided he is unable to play this year, but we wish him well and hope to see him on our courts in the future," said tournament director Stephen Farrow.

Nadal’s absence from the event will raise doubts about his chances of winning Wimbledon for a third time. The 17-time Grand Slam champion last won at the All England Club in 2010 and has not been past the last 16 since 2011.

Former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli has shelved a comeback plan, citing shoulder problems and saying she hopes to concentrate on a move into coaching.

"I sadly must put a stop to my comeback attempt," tweeted Bartoli. "The necessary ramping up of training to try to get back to my best is causing pain again in my right shoulder," the 33-year-old said.

She wanted to put the knowledge she had garnered from playing to good effect by taking on a coaching role in due course, she said.

Bartoli, who retired six weeks after her Wimbledon triumph in 2013, has suffered illness since and said she "feared for her life" after dramatic weight loss in 2016.

She won eight singles titles and last played competitively five seasons ago when she lost to Simona Halep in the second round at Cincinnati. She reached a career-high ranking of seven in 2012.

AFP