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Two-time defending champ Rafael Nadal withdraws in Toronto

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Five-time event champion Rafael Nadal pulled out of the National Bank Open in Toronto on Tuesday due to a left foot injury.

Nadal was the second seed and slated to face South African Lloyd Harris in a second-round match on Wednesday.

“I really wanted to play here a lot, but now is the moment to make a decision, and this is unfortunately the decision that I have taken,” Nadal said during a press conference.

A few minutes earlier, Nadal released a video through event organizers.

“Hey Toronto. I’m very sorry that I will not be able to play this year,” Nadal said. “My foot is not ready for it. I feel bad. I tried hard and you know how much I love this event. Great memories from all these years.”

Nadal has won the event — previously known as the Rogers Cup — twice in Toronto (2008, 2018) and three times in Montreal (2005, 2013, 2019). The tournament rotates between the two cities.

He is the two-time defending champion after the tournament was canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Nadal said the foot issues aren’t a new development.

“I have had this issue for a couple of months, as people know,” Nadal said. “Of course, it is not a happy situation after all the success that I had here in Canada, not being able to play this year after missing a year. It’s a tough one, but that’s how it is today.

“I need to go back and try to find a way to be better again. At the end of the day, for me the most important thing is to enjoy playing tennis. Today, with this pain, I am not able to enjoy it, and I really don’t believe that I have the chance to fight for the things that I really need to fight for.”

Nadal’s decision also could have been influenced by the U.S. Open set to start in less than three weeks.

Nadal’s Spanish countryman, Feliciano Lopez, will replace him in the field as the lucky loser.

Tournament officials understood why Nadal had to withdraw.

“We are of course disappointed that Rafa is being forced to withdraw due to injury,” tournament director Karl Hale said in a news release. “We know our fans were looking forward to seeing him in action at the Aviva Centre. However, we understand his decision and we wish him a quick recovery. We are already looking forward to welcoming him back to Canada next year, and to Toronto in 2023.”

Coincidentally, Nadal lost to Harris last Thursday in the round of 16 at the Citi Open in Washington.

–Field Level Media

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