PARIS, France — Returning from one injury to play at the Paris Masters, Rafael Nadal pulled out with another one.
This time it wasn’t the troublesome right knee which had sidelined him since the US Open semifinals in early September, but rather an abdominal injury which just crept up on him.
Given his history of injuries, Nadal listened to advice and did not play his second-round match against Fernando Verdasco on Wednesday.
“The last few days I start to feel a little bit the abdominal, especially when I was serving,” Nadal said. “The doctor says that is recommended to not play, because if I continue the abdominal maybe can break and can be a major thing.”
This latest injury will cost him his No. 1 ranking, which goes back to longtime rival Novak Djokovic next week.
Djokovic lost his top ranking to Andy Murray at the Paris Masters two years ago.
As he then struggled to come back from a lingering elbow injury, the 31-year-old Serb’s ranking plummeted to No. 22 in May this year.
But Djokovic has completely turned his form around, winning four of the last five tournaments he has entered, including Wimbledon, the US Open and most recently the Shanghai Masters. The 14-time Grand Slam champion’s brilliant comeback makes him the first player to reach No. 1 after being ranked below 20th in the same season since Marat Safin in 2000, according to the ATP Tour.
Djokovic faces Damir Dzumhur in the third round, the first time they have played each other.
For Nadal, it is the second straight year he has withdrawn from the Paris indoor tournament and he is not sure if he will play at the season-ending ATP Finals in London, starting 11 November.