Rafael Nadal Withdraws From U.S. Open

Rafael Nadal will not defend his U.S. Open title when the tournament starts next week, announcing today that he will not compete as he recovers from a wrist injury.

Nadal, 28, has not played competitively since a surprising fourth-round exit at Wimbledon, and soon after hurt his right wrist while practicing (he is a lefty, but uses a two-hand backhand). He had worn a splint for the last couple of weeks, removing it for a practice session on Friday, but he's apparently not quite good enough to go. Here's the statement released on his Facebook page, which is clearly a translation run through a machine but you get the idea:

I am very sorry to announce I won't be able to play at this year's US Open a tournament on which I've played 3 consecutive finals in my last participations. I am sure you understand that it is a very tough moment for me since it is a tournament I love and where I have great memories from fans, the night matches, so many things… Not much more I can do right now, other than accept the situation and, as always in my case, work hard in order to be able to compete at the highest level once I am back.

It's been a relatively rough year for Nadal, who, a month after winning the French Open, lost his No. 1 world ranking to Novak Djokovic. Djokovic, too, has been off lately, quite possibly making Roger Federer the favorite heading to Flushing.

Nadal and Federer have never met at the U.S. Open.