Rafael Nadal is definitely a little cursed when it comes to the ATP Tour Finals.
And once again this season, he will be forced to miss it.
The abdominal injury that caused him to withdraw from the Paris Masters last week isn’t sufficiently healed to consider playing the best in the world.
Not only that, Nadal is also having rather unexpected arthroscopic surgery Monday.
He will have a loose, intra-articular bone fragment in his right ankle joint removed, a condition called “synovial chondromatosis”.
Nadal announced the news in a series of Tweets Monday morning from Barcelona, where he will have the surgery.
“It has been a complicated year, very good at the tennis level when I have been able to play and at the same time, very bad as far as injuries are concerned. I have done everything possible to get to end of season in good condition, both to Paris and to London, doing things well and I really wanted to play,” he write.
“Unfortunately I had the abdominal problem in Paris last week and I also have a (floating) body in the ankle joint that has to be removed in the operating room today.”
Nadal added that the ankle issue had been ongoing and was an occasional, if not constant, issue.
But given the additional problem with the abdominal, which was reason enough to pass on London, it was the right time to have the fragment removed and resolve the problem once and for all.
“This way I hope to be in full condition for next season,” Nadal wrote.
The Mallorcan has qualified for the Tour Finals 14 times. This is now the seventh time Nadal has either missed the event entirely, or pulled out after it began.
Second withdrawal: first del Potro, now Nadal
American John Isner is the first alternate for the final eight at the Tour Finals.
And Paris Masters champion Karen Khachanov, with that win, moves into the position of first alternate.
Already, Kei Nishikori qualified with the withdrawal of another popular, high-profile player, Juan Martin del Potro.
The official draw is to be made Monday evening, 7 p.m. London time.
So the withdrawal is both timely – and considerate.
Nadal’s late withdrawal in Paris came after the draw. And it resulted in Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer ending up in the same half of the draw.
That enthralling semifinal they played could well have been a final.
As it is now, they’ll find themselves in separate pools, as the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds.
And the withdrawal ensures Novak Djokovic will finish the 2018 season as No. 1, since Nadal was the only one with a shot at catching him.