Rafa Nadal theory comes to light after devastating withdrawal from Australian Open

The Spaniard appeared not ready to risk a potential farewell with a minor injury.

Rafa Nadal answers a question and Nadal walks off the court.
Fans are worried the next time we see Rafa Nadal (pictured) at Roland Garros it will be his last tournament after the Spaniard withdrew from the Australian Open due to another hip injury. (Getty Images)

Rafa Nadal left fans shattered having announced his injury would rule him out out of the Australian Open later this month and many have suggested he is saving himself for one final tournament. Nadal injured his troublesome hip during his loss to Aussie Jordan Thompson at the Brisbane International last week.

The 37-year-old admitted he would fly to Melbourne and rest ahead of the Australian Open. However, a scan revealed the Spaniard had suffered a micro tear in the same hip that ruled him out for nearly a year.

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And in a devastating move for eager Australian Open fans, Nadal admitted he was set to fly back home to Spain and rest-up ahead of his next tournament. There is no indication of when the next time Nadal will play tennis, but the Spaniard hinted he was always building-up to the French Open.

"I have worked very hard during the year for this comeback and as I always mentioned my goal is to be at my best level in three months," he wrote. "Within the sad news for me for not being able to play in front of the amazing Melbourne crowds, this is not very bad news and we all remain positive with the evolution for the season.

"I really wanted to play here in Australia and I have had the chance to play a few matches that made me very happy and positive. Thanks all for the support and see you soon."

And former tennis star-turned Eurosport commentator Barbara Schett admitted her shock in Nadal's withdrawal. However, she also suggested he would have his eye on the bigger picture considering he might only be able to play Roland Garros and the Olympics before calling time on his illustrious career.

“We won't see him back here on the court at the Australian Open, but I do understand that he wants to make sure that his body is fit," Schett added from Australia through Eurosport. “We know that he puts the emphasis on the clay-court season. He wants to play well there, he wants to be fit and healthy. He wants to compete in the Olympics as well, so he has to rest up."

Spain's Rafael Nadal reacts as he leaves the court after his loss against Australia's Jordan Thompson at their men's singles match during the Brisbane International tennis tournament in Brisbane on January 5, 2024. (Photo by Patrick HAMILTON / AFP) / --IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE-- (Photo by PATRICK HAMILTON/AFP via Getty Images)

Schett admitted Nadal may not appear in Australia as a player again, but it wasn't the last time we see him on the tour. “It's sad for us but he needs to do what he has to do, [but] one thing is for sure, we will see him again," Schett added.

"Maybe not live here at the Australian Open, but hopefully at the French Open worst case scenario, we will see him on TV, on Eurosport, that's for sure." Fans agreed with most calling for Nadal to rest before Roland Garros so he can go out at the tournament where he has won a record 14 grand slam titles.

Rafa Nadal to miss the Australian Open through injury

Unfortunately, the Australian Open marks the 16th grand slam Nadal will have missed through injury during his career. The Spaniard admitted he was looking forward to playing the Australian Open but having spoken to his team he needed to look at the bigger picture.

Nadal has stated that 2024 will probably be his last year in professional tennis. But his latest injury setback will inevitably spark fears that he'll be forced to call it quits sooner rather than later. After his exit from the Brisbane International, Nadal admitted he felt pain in his hip during the match.

Rafa Nadal's wife and son, pictured here in Brisbane.
Rafa Nadal's wife and son had been in Australia watching him play. (AAP Image/Darren England)

"It is a very similar place to what happened last year, but different," he said post-match. "I feel more muscle, last year was tendon. For sure it's not the same like last year at all because when it happened last year I felt something drastic immediately.

"Today, I didn't feel anything. The only problem is because the place is the same you are a little bit more scared than usual. I hope it's not important and I hope to have the chance to be practising next week and to play Melbourne. Honestly, I am not 100 per cent sure of anything now."

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