There will be reduced firepower and star presence at Wimbledon with the absence of Rafael Nadal, Naomi Osaka, Dominic Thiem and Milos Raonic. The quartet are among the multiple players who have opted against playing at the grass court major due to varying factors.
Two-time champion Nadal was the first to announce he will be skipping the event so as to listen to his body and prolong his career. Nadal, who won Wimbledon in 2008 and 2010 and lost in the semi-finals in the two previous outings, will not just miss the third major of the year but also the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
“The goal is to prolong my career and continue to do what makes me happy, that is to compete at the highest level and keep fighting for those professional and personal goals at the maximum level of competition,” said Nadal in a couple of tweets.
Rafa added that the small gap of two weeks between clay season ending and grass-court major didn’t help his cause to recover. “The fact that there has only been 2 weeks between RG and Wimbledon, didn’t make it easier on my body to recuperate after the always demanding clay court season. They have been two months of great effort and the decision I take is focused looking at the mid and long term,” he tweeted.
World No 2 Osaka has decided against playing at Wimbledon to give herself more time to recover mentally. The Japanese player announced she had been suffering from depression and anxiety for two years and after a controversial start, decided to withdraw from the French Open. At Roland Garros, she had opted against doing the mandatory press conferences which was met with a fine and warning from all four Grand Slams of stern action. Thereafter, Osaka withdrew from the clay-court tournament and will continue that position for Wimbledon as well. However, she has said she will play in Tokyo for the Olympics.
“Naomi won’t be playing Wimbledon this year,” Naomi’s agent said in a statement. “She is taking some personal time with friends and family.”
Osaka had reached the third round in 2016 and 2017 in her best showings on grass. She was beaten in the first round in 2019 by Yulia Putintseva following which she broke down in the press conference.
On 24 June, No 4 seed Thiem joined the list of players pulling out. He had suffered a wrist injury in Mallorca and been forced to retire. After consultations with doctors in Barcelona, it was revealed he will skip the coming three tournaments including Wimbledon to recover. The statement said he would wear a wrist splint for five weeks. “I’m going to do everything the doctors say in order to recover as quickly as possible. They’ve informed me that I might be out for several weeks, but I will do my best to be back on court soon. I’m really sorry to be pulling out of the upcoming three tournaments I had in my calendar: Wimbledon, Hamburg and Gstaad,” said Thiem.
Other key players missing from the tournament will be 2016 Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic (calf injury), 2019 quarter-finalist David Goffin (ankle injury), two-time quarter-finalist Stan Wawrinka (foot injury), Kyle Edmund (knee surgery), Borna Coric (shoulder injury).
Wimbledon was not held last year owing to the coronavirus pandemic. It starts on 28 June with reduced attendance capacity.