PARIS—Rafael Nadal is expected to need about five months to recover from arthroscopic surgery on his left hip, a timeline that likely would keep him out for the rest of this season.
Nadal’s spokesman, Benito Perez-Barbadillo, said on Saturday — the 22-time Grand Slam champion’s 37th birthday — that two procedures were performed Friday night by a trio of doctors at a clinic in Barcelona.
One portion of the operation was for a tendon, the other for an old labrum injury.
When Nadal announced last month that he would be missing the French Open because of the hip problem that has sidelined him since January, he said he hoped to be able to return at some point in 2023 but that he expected next year to be the last of his career.
The Spaniard hasn’t competed anywhere since he lost to Mackenzie McDonald in the second round of the Australian Open on Jan. 18. Nadal’s movement clearly was restricted for much of that match and he ended up with his earliest exit at any Grand Slam tournament since 2016.
An MRI exam the next day revealed the extent of the injury, and Perez-Barbadillo said at the time that Nadal was expected to need up to two months to fully recover. He initially aimed to enter the Monte Carlo Masters in March on his beloved red clay, but he wasn’t able to play there, then subsequently sat out tournament after tournament, decreasing the likelihood that he would be ready for the French Open.
Nadal announced during a news conference at his tennis academy in Manacor, Spain, on May 18 that he would need to miss this year’s trip to compete in Paris. He said he would need to take an indefinite break from tennis — no matches and not even any practices.
And he added that he was not sure when — or, truly, if — he’ll be able to return to the tour, but figures that next season will be his last before retirement.
Nadal is just 1-3 this season and has dropped seven of his past nine matches overall, dating to a fourth-round loss to Frances Tiafoe in the US Open’s fourth round last September.
Nadal is tied with Novak Djokovic for the men’s record of 22 major championships. Djokovic is currently competing at Roland Garros — he moved into the fourth round with a three-set victory over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina at Court Philippe Chatrier on Friday — and is now four match wins away from pulling ahead of Nadal for the first time.
Image credits: AP