Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal withdraws from BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells a day before first round

CNNSpanish tennis player Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, the night before he was scheduled to face Canadian Milos Raonic in the first round, he announced on social media Wednesday.

In an announcement on X, the 22-time Grand Slam winner said he’s dropping out of the tennis tournament because he doesn’t feel prepared enough to compete at “the highest level.” The three-time Indian Wells champion holds a 59-11 record at Indian Wells, according to ATP Tour.

“It is with great sadness that I have to withdraw from this amazing tournament at Indian Wells,” Nadal wrote. “Everyone knows how much I love this place and how much I love to play here. That’s also one of the reasons why I came very early to the desert to practice and try to get ready.”

The 37-year-old was scheduled to play in the first round against Raonic on Thursday, but Indian player Sumit Nagal has taken Nadal’s place in the draw, a news release said. The BNP Paribas Open runs through March 17 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

Nadal has not played on the world tour since the Brisbane International in January, where he made a much-awaited comeback after a hip injury. Earlier this week, the fan-favorite participated in the inaugural “Netflix Slam” against compatriot Carlos Alcaraz in Las Vegas. Alcaraz defeated Nadal in the exhibition match.

“I have been working hard and practicing and you all know I took a test this weekend but I don’t find myself ready to play at the highest level at such an important event,” Nadal said in the announcement. “It is not an easy decision, it’s a tough one as a matter of fact but I can’t lie to myself and lie to the thousands of fans. I will miss you all and I am sure the tournament will be a great success.”

The player has battled a series of injuries in recent years, which caused him to miss several major tournaments. Nadal said in May 2023 that 2024 would likely be his last year on tour, though he didn’t rule out continuing past that date.

Tournament director Tommy Haas said he was “disappointed” Nadal would be withdrawing but wished him “continued healing and hope he can be back in action again soon.”

“He is one of the all-time fan favorites here, and we hope to see him back in Indian Wells again in the future,” Haas continued.