Rafael Nadal’s highly-anticipated return trip Down Under has been prematurely cut short, ending his hopes of making a 19th appearance at Melbourne Park.

On Sunday, the 22-time major champion pulled out of the Australian Open two days after concerns about being fully fit for the first major of the year were raised during his Brisbane quarterfinal loss to Jordan Thompson.

“Hi all, during my last match in Brisbane I had a small problem on a muscle that as you know made me worried. Once I got to Melbourne, I have had the chance to make an MRI. I have micro tear on a muscle, not in the same part where I had the injury and that’s good news,” he assured.

“Right now, I am not ready to compete at the maximum level of exigence in 5-set matches. I’m flying back to Spain to see my doctor, get some treatment and rest.”


Sidelined for nearly 12 months with a left hip injury that surfaced at last year’s Australian Open, Nadal began his comeback at the start of the new year by playing three singles matches and one doubles contest in Brisbane. The 37-year-old was in prime position to reach the singles semifinals, but missed three match points in his second set with Thompson before going down to the Aussie.

“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,” continued Nadal. “This is not very bad news and we all remain positive with the evolution for the season.”

France’s Quentin Halys, who was the top seed in the Australian Open qualifying draw made Sunday, moved into the main draw as a result of Nadal’s withdrawal timing.