Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from next week's ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, due to the back problems that had also hampered his Australian Open campaign.
In a statement posted on his social media account, Nadal expressed "great sadness" at pulling out of the ATP 500 tournament. The 20-time Grand Slam champion revealed that he made the decision after consulting his medical team back in Spain.
The back issues had also forced Rafael Nadal to pull out of the ATP Cup prior to the Australian Open, and limited his ability to practice through the first half of the Melbourne Slam. As the injury improved Nadal was able to reach the quarterfinals, where he was defeated by Stefanos Tsitsipas in five sets.
Tournament Director Richard Krajicek also expressed disappointment about the event losing its star player.
"As it would have been Nadal’s first appearance in Rotterdam since 2009, we were really looking forward to greeting him in Rotterdam for the first time," Krajicek said. "We will definitely miss him next week."
Rafael Nadal's withdrawal means that current World No. 3 Daniil Medvedev will be the top seed in the draw. Other top 10 players entered in the event include World No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas, World No. 7 Alexander Zverev and World No. 8 Andrey Rublev.
Rafael Nadal's withdrawal opens the door for Daniil Medvedev to become World No. 2 on 8 March
Rafael Nadal's withdrawal from Rotterdam has opened the door for Russia's Daniil Medvedev to become the new World No. 2 on 8 March.
As per the ATP Tour, Medvedev can reach the No. 2 spot by advancing to the final in Rotterdam. That would earn him enough points to move past the Spaniard in the rankings.
Daniil Medvedev, who moved to his career-high No. 3 spot earlier this week, has been on a tear in recent months. The Russian put together a 20-match unbeaten run which saw him win the Paris Masters, the Nitto ATP Finals and the ATP Cup, and reach the final of the Australian Open.
If Daniil Medvedev does manage to reach the No. 2 position, it would mark the first time since 25 July 2005 that a player besides Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer or Andy Murray would be ranked in the world's top 2.
Aside from Medvedev's chase for the No. 2 spot, the week of 8 March is already destined to go down in history. That is the moment Novak Djokovic will break Roger Federer's record of most weeks at World No. 1 in men's tennis.