Nadal pulls out of Qatar Open amid more health concerns

Rafael Nadal put off his return to the tennis tour because he isn’t yet healthy enough to play, announcing Wednesday that he will sit out next week’s Qatar Open.

“I would have loved to play in Doha, where the tournament crew, as well as the amazing Qatar fans have always supported me greatly. Unfortunately I am not ready to compete and I won’t be able to come to Doha where I really wanted to be and play again after that unforgettable win in 2014,” Nadal wrote on social media. “I will focus on keep working to be ready for the exhibition in Las Vegas and the amazing Indian Wells tournament.”

Nadal, 37, Spaniard is calendared to participate in an exhibition game with Carlos Alcaraz on March 3, then head to Indian Wells, California, for the hard-court tournament there next month.

Nadal played in three matches at the Brisbane International in early January — his first competitive action in nearly a full year — but then pulled out of the Australian Open and hasn’t been back since.

He hurt his hip flexor during the Australian Open in 2023 and eventually needed surgery, missing the rest of last season.

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Nadal has indicated this year might be the last of his career, and he’s pointed to the French Open — where he earned 14 of his 22 Grand Slam titles — as his focus.

“I don’t know which events I have left to play but between you and me, it’s not going to be many,” Nadal said in an interview with Spanish broadcaster La Sexta.

“(Roland Garros) will be one of my goals. I’d like to play at the Olympics as well. It’s not something I can confirm right now, but I hope I will … I think I will.”

Nadal also talked about his ties with Saudi Arabia after being appointed ambassador of the country’s Tennis Federation last month.

“They pay me, yes, do I need the money? Not at all, it will not change my life. I have not signed a super contract, like other fellow athletes who are there and I totally respect them,” he said.

Nadal reached an agreement with the Middle East country for a long-term commitment to help grow the sport and inspire a new generation of tennis players and he plans to create a Rafa Nadal Academy in the country.

“My commitment is to promote tennis and try to achieve my goals. I don’t think Arabia needs me to wash its image. It is not my objective. People tend to give their opinions without asking questions,” Nadal said.

“It goes without saying that when I accepted, I knew what would happen. I think my team made a mistake in communication and that I should have come out to explain it,” he added.

Saudi Arabia has invested billions in global sport, including football, cycling, motor racing and golf, drawing heavy criticism from people who call it an attempt to distract attention from the country’s human rights violations.

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