Rafael Nadal withdraws from the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells a day before his first match

Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, the night before facing Canadian Milos Raonic in the first round, he announced on social media on Wednesday.

image credit

In a statement on X, the winner of 22 Grand Slam titles said that he was withdrawing from the tennis tournament because he does not feel prepared enough to compete at the "highest level." The three-time Indian Wells champion has a record of 59 wins and 11 losses in the tournament, according to the ATP Tour.

"It is with great sadness that I have to withdraw from this incredible tournament in Indian Wells," wrote Nadal. "Everyone knows how much I love this place and how much I like playing here. That's also one of the reasons why I came very early to the desert to practice and try to be ready."

The 37-year-old was set to play in the first round against Raonic on Thursday, but Indian player Sumit Nagal has taken Nadal's place in the draw, according to a press release. The BNP Paribas Open runs until March 17 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

Nadal has not played on the world tour since the Brisbane International in January, where he made a long-awaited return from a hip injury. Earlier this week, the fan favorite participated in the inaugural "Netflix Slam" against compatriot Carlos Alcaraz in Las Vegas. Alcaraz defeated Nadal in the exhibition match.

"I've been working hard and practicing, and everyone knows I had a test this weekend, but I don't feel ready to play at the highest level in such an important event," Nadal said in the announcement. "It is not an easy decision, in fact, it is a difficult one, but I cannot lie to myself or to the thousands of fans. I will miss them all and I am sure that the tournament will be a great success."

Nadal has battled a series of injuries in recent years, leading him to miss several major tournaments. In May 2023, Nadal said that 2024 would likely be his last year on the tour, although he did not rule out continuing beyond that date.

Tournament director Tommy Haas said he was "disappointed" that Nadal withdrew but wished him "a continued recovery and I hope he can return to action soon."

"He's one of the all-time fan favorites here, and we hope to see him again at Indian Wells in the future," Haas continued.