Last week, Rafael Nadal announced that he would be sitting out Wimbledon, as well as the Olympics in Tokyo, citing the need to “recuperate after the always demanding clay-court season.”

With the 20-time Grand Slam champion out of Wimbledon, you would think his two biggest rivals—Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer—would benefit, especially given that they’ve combined to win the tournament in 13 of the last 17 years, Djokovic winning it five times and Federer eight times.

But if history is anything to go by, Nadal’s absence from a major might actually benefit everyone.


Since he started making the ranking cut-offs for them in 2003, this will be the 11th major Nadal has missed due to injury or other reasons. Here’s what happened in the first 10 he was absent from:

~ 2003 Roland Garros: Nadal out w/left elbow injury

Champion: Juan Carlos Ferrero (Federer 1R, Djokovic DNP)

~ 2004 Roland Garros: Nadal out w/left ankle injury

Champion: Gaston Gaudio (Federer 3R, Djokovic DNP)

~ 2004 Wimbledon: Nadal out w/left ankle injury

Champion: Roger Federer (Djokovic DNP)

~ 2006 Australian Open: Nadal out w/left foot injury

Champion: Roger Federer (Djokovic 1R)

~ 2009 Wimbledon: Nadal out w/knee tendinitis

Champion: Roger Federer (Djokovic QF)

~ 2012 US Open: Nadal out w/left knee injury

Champion: Andy Murray (Federer QF, Djokovic RU)

~ 2013 Australian Open: Nadal out w/stomach virus

Champion: Novak Djokovic (Federer SF)

~ 2014 US Open: Nadal out w/right wrist injury

Champion: Marin Cilic (Federer SF, Djokovic SF)

~ 2016 Wimbledon: Nadal out w/left wrist injury

Champion: Andy Murray (Federer SF, Djokovic 3R)

~ 2020 US Open: Nadal out w/travel concerns

Champion: Dominic Thiem (Federer DNP, Djokovic 4R)

Of the 10 majors Nadal has missed in his career, Federer has won three and Djokovic one (Getty Images).

Of the 10 majors Nadal has missed in his career, Federer has won three and Djokovic one (Getty Images).


So in the end, in six of the previous 10 majors Nadal has missed in his career—and in four of the last five—the man who ended up lifting the trophy was someone other than Federer or Djokovic.

Meanwhile, of the seven majors Federer has missed since he started playing them, Nadal has won three, Djokovic has won two, and Thiem and Stan Wawrinka have won one each. The only major Djokovic has missed since he began playing them was the 2017 US Open, which Nadal won.

Nadal is expected to return to action during the summer lead-up season to the US Open.