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Nadal withdraws from Indian Wells tennis due to lack of preparation

Spain's Rafael Nadal, holder of 22 major tournament titles, withdrew from the Indian Wells Masters tennis tournament on Wednesday, saying he was not ready to compete, raising further doubts about his chances of returning to the sport's highest level in 2024. , which is expected to be his last.

The 37-year-old's decision came four days after he lost to fellow world number two rising star Carlos Algarz in an exhibition match in Las Vegas.

Nadal has missed most of the 2023 season after undergoing two surgeries to treat injuries to his groin and abdomen, and this year he only played at the Australian Open in Brisbane in January because of a muscle tear. Since then, he has pulled out of four major tournaments, first at the Australian Open and then at Qatar, due to lack of fitness.

Nadal was expected to play against Canadian veteran Milos Raonic on Thursday in “tennis heaven” in California.

The news of Nadal's withdrawal came as the leading players were holding press conferences as rain pelted the tournament grounds and the clouds surrounded them.

“It is with great sadness that I leave this wonderful Indian Wells course,” El Matador said. He continued in a statement: “I worked hard. But I wasn't ready to play at such a high level in such a major event.

The left-hander added: “It's not an easy decision, but I can't lie to myself and I can't lie to thousands of fans.”

A friendly against Algaraz was Nadal's last match (AFP)

Nadal, who was unseeded in Indian Wells after injury dropped him to world No. 652, has previously said 2024 could be his last year and hopes to be a contender on clay, particularly at French Roland Garros. A club dear to his heart and a 14-time winner. to May 9 and the Olympic Games in Paris from July 26 to August 11.

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Nadal, who won the Indian Wells title in 2007, 2009 and 2013, failed in his last appearance in 2022, losing to American Taylor Fritz in the final to take his tally to four.

Indian Wells tournament director German Tommy Haas expressed his disappointment over Nadal's withdrawal: “We hope he will continue his recovery and return to the tournament soon. “He is one of the best players to ever play on these grounds and we hope he returns to Indian Wells in the near future.”

Nadal's withdrawal from Indian Wells will further shed light on his imminent retirement from the game.

In January, he declined to confirm that 2024 would be his last, retracting earlier hints on the matter.

“I can't predict 100 per cent what the future holds,” he said in Brisbane. You never know what will happen. “I can't predict what I'll be like in six months.”

The Mallorcan native continued: “I don't know if my body will allow me to enjoy tennis as I have done for the last 20 years.”

But he admitted that he carefully considered retirement during his long absence last year: “Of course I was asking myself this, but at some point I decided to continue. “I am determined to follow.”

Andy Murray defeats Belgian David Cowan (Getty).

In the highlights of the first round, Scotland's Andy Murray easily defeated Belgian qualifier David Cowan 6-3, 6-2.

Murray (age 36), runner-up in 2009, needed 80 minutes to decide the match in his favour, achieving his eighth unbeaten win against the Belgian, who had previously entered the club of top ten seeds.

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In the next round, Murray will face Russian world number five Andrey Rublev.

Italian Matteo Arnoldi defeated Frenchman Luca van Assche 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-3) to set up a match with defending champion Algaras, who was eliminated in the first round. Italian Janic Sinner, Australia's champion earlier this year, will play Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis, who defeated American Marcus Girone 6-3, 7-5 in Rotterdam last month.

German Angelique Kerber reaches second round (AFP)

In the women's, back pain forced 2021 champion Paula Padosa of Spain to withdraw before playing her opening match against wild card American Ashlyn Kruger.

Argentina's Nadia Podoroska is the unlucky replacement for world number 73 Padosa, who has not competed since last year's Wimbledon due to injury.

Germany's Angelique Kerber beat Croatia's Petra Martic 6-3, 6-4 to reach the second round, her first time in the top 100 since returning to the court after giving birth.

The 36-year-old, winner of three major titles, will face Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, the Roland Garros 2017 champion.

Britain's Katie Poulter, the latest winner of the San Diego 500, crashed out in the first round after losing 6-3, 6-2 to Italian Camilla Giorgi.

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