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Rafael Nadal: Tennis great withdraws from tournament through injury but says he is ‘focused’ on US return

Former world number one Rafael Nadal has pulled out of his scheduled comeback after more than a month out with an injury he sustained on his comeback at the Brisbane International.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion will not appear at the Qatar Open, although he said he hopes to play an exhibition match against fellow Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in Las Vegas on March 3.

“I would have loved to play in Doha,” the 37-year-old said on social media. “The tournament team, as well as the amazing Qatar fans, have always supported me greatly.

“I will focus on keeping working to be ready for the exhibition in Las Vegas and the amazing Indian Wells tournament.”

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The Qatar Open starts on February 19, with Indian Wells taking place in California between March 4 and 17.

Nadal’s return in Brisbane was in preparation for the Australian Open, which he has won twice, later that month.

That was his first competitive tennis for more than a year, but it was curtailed by a hip injury which ruled him out of the Melbourne major.

Current world number two Alcaraz, who has been inspired by Nadal, added a supportive reply to the tennis icon’s announcement.

“Cheer up, Rafa,” said the 2023 Wimbledon champion, via translation. “You’re on top right away. See you in Vegas.”

Nadal return: ‘High’ chance of retirement after 2024

When he was appointed as an ambassador for the Saudi Tennis Federation in January, Nadal said there was a “high percentage” chance 2024 would be his final year as a player.

The 14-time French Open champion has missed the last four Grand Slam tournaments and pulled out of Wimbledon 2022 before his semi-final because of injury.

“I will continue to play tennis because I love it,” the man who spent 209 weeks at the top of the rankings said at the time.

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