Rafael Nadal, who would have been the No. 2 seed, is out of the Rogers Cup in Toronto next week and a similar Masters 1000 tournament the following week in Cincinnati.
The reason is an injury to his right wrist suffered in practice Tuesday.
According to a statement released by the Cincinnati tournament, Nadal has a “a small disinsertion of the posterior ulnar pod of his right wrist". The New York Times reports the wrist will be in a cast for two to three weeks.
Nadal plays left-handed, but he's a natural righty and has a two-handed backhand.
It's far too early to speculate on what this means for Nadal's U.S. hopes. The tournament begins on Aug. 25 and it's clear, if the wrist does respond to treatment, that Nadal will have to make a judgment call on whether it can hold up over two weeks of best-of-five sets – and whether it's worth even trying if he doesn't think he can compete at a high level. So stay tuned.
Here's the official Nadal quote from Tennis Canada.
“I’m extremely disappointed that I am unable to defend my Rogers Cup title this year. I was looking forward to coming there and playing again in Toronto as I have always loved to play in Canada and had great results in the past at a very important event. Unfortunately I injured myself yesterday during practice and after checking with my doctors I will have to stay out of competition for at least 2-3 weeks. I am sorry to the tournament and to all of the fans.”
Nadal has been a faithful customer at the Rogers Cup. He missed it only once, in 2012 during that period his knee woes took him out for seven months. He has won it three times.
“We know Rafa is a fan favourite and our fans will be upset by his absence,” Rogers Cup tournament director Karl Hale said in a statement. “But we also know that if Rafa could play he would as he has a great respect for our event and his Canadian fans. We wish him well and hope he returns to the Tour healthy as soon as possible.”
The withdrawal is good news for Andy Murray, currently No. 10 in the ATP Tour rankings.
With the absence of Juan Martin del Potro (who is rehabbing after surgery to repair the wrist on his off-hand – this is getting to be a familiar refrain, isn't it?) and Nadal means the Brit will be the No. 8 seed, which gives him a first-round bye.
Just yesterday, Nadal was saying this at a charity event, according to the ATP Tour's Spanish site.
"Lately, I have not had any setbacks. From Australia, fortunately, I have not had setbacks – just the opposite. Things have gone well and I think I'm having a good season. I'm happy about it and now there are major challenges to achieve."
It's ironic, now.
Nadal is the defending champion in Canada; he defeated home-country hero Milos Raonic in last year's final in Montreal. He also won the Cincinnati event the following week, defeating American John Isner in the final.
That's a total of 2,000 ranking points to strike from Nadal's total. It cuts the distance between himself and his closest pursuers, No. 3 Roger Federer and No. 4 Stan Wawrinka, by a third and triples the gap between himself and No. 1 Novak Djokovic, all other results being equal.
That's probably not his biggest concern at the moment, with the U.S. Open less than a month away.