When Rafael Nadal announced last Friday that he was postponing until Monday his decision on whether to participate in the U.S. Open, there were two possibilities.
Either the world No. 2 had decided to play, but just wanted to take a few more days to make sure. Or, more likely, his injured right wrist wasn't sufficiently healed but he wanted to give it a few more days, just in case there was a big last-minute turnaround.
Not surprisingly, it was the latter scenario.
And so Nadal will miss the U.S. Open for the second time in three years; he missed it in 2012 with his knee problems and won it a year ago.
Here's the statement from Nadal, from the U.S. Open web site.
"I am very sorry to announce I won’t be able to play at this year’s U.S. Open, a tournament on which I’ve played three consecutive finals in my last participations. ... I am sure you understand that it is a very tough moment for me since it is a tournament I love and where I have great memories from fans, the night matches, so many things… Not much more I can do right now, other than accept the situation and, as always in my case, work hard in order to be able to compete at the highest level once I am back."
With the withdrawal, Roger Federer becomes the No. 2 seed in the tournament, which begins in one week.
The Nadal withdrawal also means 2012 champion Andy Murray of Great Britain, ranked No. 9, will slip in to take the No. 8 seed. That could be a fairly critical development if Murray is on form, because it would avoid him having to play a No. 5-No. 8 seed in the fourth round, if he advances that far.
Nadal will now have missed Toronto and Cincinnati (both Masters 1000 events) and the U.S. Open – all of which he won a year ago during a brilliant comeback season. That is 4,000 ranking points that he cannot defend.
It means that if Federer, who lost in the fourth round to Tommy Robredo a year in New York, could win the U.S. Open – and he's certainly the most on-form of the remaining top players coming in – he would pass Nadal and take over the No. 2 spot in the rankings. If he made the final, he would be well within striking distance.