PARIS (AP) — Rafael Nadal had arthroscopic surgery on Friday night for the injured left hip flexor that forced him to sit out the French Open for the first time since he won the first of his record 14 titles there in his 2005 tournament debut.
Nadal’s spokesman, Benito Perez-Barbadillo, said three doctors were involved in the procedure, which was taking place in Barcelona.
Perez-Barbadillo said he expected to be able to pass along information about the operation on Saturday, which is Nadal’s 37th birthday.
The Spaniard hasn’t competed anywhere since he lost to Mackenzie McDonald in the second round of the Australian Open on Jan. 18. Nadal’s movement clearly was restricted for much of that match and he ended up with his earliest exit at any Grand Slam tournament since 2016.
An MRI exam the next day revealed the extent of the injury, and Perez-Barbadillo said at the time that Nadal was expected to need up to two months to fully recover. He initially aimed to enter the Monte Carlo Masters in March on his beloved red clay, but he wasn’t able to play there, then subsequently sat out tournament after tournament, decreasing the likelihood that he would be ready for the French Open.
Nadal announced during a news conference at his tennis academy in Manacor, Spain, on May 18 that he would need to miss this year’s trip to compete in Paris. He said he would need to take an indefinite break from tennis — no matches and not even any practices.
And he added that he was not sure when — or, truly, if — he’ll be able to return to the tour, but figures that next season will be his last before retirement.
Nadal is just 1-3 this season and has dropped seven of his past nine matches overall, dating to a fourth-round loss to Frances Tiafoe in the U.S. Open’s fourth round last September.
Nadal is tied with Novak Djokovic for the men’s record of 22 major championships. Djokovic is currently competing at Roland Garros — he moved into the fourth round with a three-set victory over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina at Court Philippe Chatrier on Friday — and is now four match wins away from pulling ahead of Nadal for the first time.
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