Rafael Nadal, 10-time champion, pulls out of Rome Masters with hip injury

Rafael Nadal is pulling out of next week's Rome Masters tournament due to a hip injury — the same hip injury that forced him to withdraw from the 2023 Australian Open back in January.

Nadal posted the news Friday on Twitter, less than a week before the tournament is set to begin. The 10-time Rome Masters champion explained that his hip injury, which has taken twice as long to heal than he expected (he's on week 16 of an injury with a 6-8 week recovery time), has prevented him from training at a high level, so he's decided to pull out.

However, there was a kernel of good news in Rafa's announcement: He said that he's noticed an improvement in recent days. That's a far cry from where he was two weeks ago when he announced his withdrawal from the Madrid Open, when he revealed that despite following all the medical recommendations, his hip wasn't improving at a normal rate.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 18: Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts in their round two singles match against Mackenzie McDonald of the United States during day three of the 2023 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 18, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Will Murray/Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal's Australian Open hip injury still hasn't totally healed, so the 10-time Rome Masters champion is pulling out of the tournament. (Photo by Will Murray/Getty Images)

Will Nadal play at Roland Garros?

Nadal is the King of Clay, having won a mind-blowing 14 French Open trophies over the course of his career. The crowd loves him, and he loves playing there. And while the injury is concerning, Nadal has yet to say anything about withdrawing.

What might be more concerning is his overall readiness to jump back into top-level competition. Due to the hip injury, which he sustained in the second round of the 2023 Australian Open, Nadal has barely seen a competitive court this year. By the time he gets to Roland Garros (if he does), he'll have gone over four months without playing a single match. In the past 10 months, he's won just five total matches.

That's taken a toll on his ranking. He ended 2022 at No. 2 in the world, but on April 25, 2023, he exited the top 10 for the first time in 18 years, a total of 912 consecutive weeks. It was the longest top 10 streak in ATP history.

At this point in his career, Nadal seems to be past caring about his worldwide ranking. He knows he's facing down the end of his career (he'll turn 37 during the French Open) and so every tournament means a little more. He's saving up all his energy to compete for his record 15th trophy at Roland Garros, where he has always played his best.