Rafael Nadal pulled out of his second-round match at the Paris Masters on Wednesday because of an abdominal problem, meaning Novak Djokovic will reclaim the No. 1 ranking.
Nadal was returning from a right knee injury that forced him to retire from his semifinal match at the United States Open. But he took medical advice not to play his first match in Paris, against Fernando Verdasco.
“The last few days I start to feel a little bit the abdominal, especially when I was serving,” Nadal said. “I was checking with the doctor and the doctor says that is recommended to not play, because if I continue, the abdominal maybe can break and can be a major thing, and I really don’t want that.”
At last year’s tournament, Nadal reached the quarterfinals but then pulled out with an injury. He has dealt with off-and-on knee problems for years and, given his injury record, he prefers to be cautious.
At the U.S. Open in early September, Nadal, 32, dropped the opening two sets against Juan Martín del Potro before retiring. He then skipped the Asia swing to recover, missing tournaments in Beijing and Shanghai.
“It has been a tough year for me in terms of injuries so I want to avoid drastic things,” Nadal said. “Maybe I can play today, but the doctor says if I want to play the tournament, I want to try to win the tournament, the abdominal with break for sure.”
Nadal did not say whether he will play at the season-ending ATP Finals in London, which begin Nov. 11.
“I just go day by day, as I did all my tennis career,” he said. “I would love to be in London of course. But the most important thing for me is to be healthy, be healthy and have the chance to compete weeks in a row. Something that I was not able to do this year, playing only nine events and retiring in two. So that’s the real point.”
Djokovic, who won his second-round match on Tuesday, will reclaim the top ranking from Nadal on Monday. After struggling in the first half of the year, Djokovic was ranked No. 22 as recently as June. But since then he has won Wimbledon, the Cincinnati Masters, the U.S. Open and the Shanghai Masters.
TOP U.S. PLAYERS SKIP FED CUP Four of the top five American women in the WTA singles rankings will skip the country’s Fed Cup final against the Czech Republic, including both Williams sisters and Sloane Stephens.
Instead, the roster announced for the defending champions by the captain Kathy Rinaldi on Wednesday features No. 35 Danielle Collins, No. 48 Sofia Kenin and No. 63 Alison Riske in singles, along with Nicole Melichar, who is ranked 15th in doubles.
The sixth-ranked Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion and the 2018 French Open runner-up, is sitting out the final, which will be played Nov. 10-11 on an indoor hard court at Prague. She lost the final of the WTA Finals in Singapore on Sunday.
No. 16 Madison Keys, who is playing a tournament in Zhuhai, China, this week, will miss the Fed Cup final, as will No. 15 Serena Williams and No. 40 Venus Williams.
The Czech Republic is seeking its sixth title in eight years with a roster that includes the two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and the 2016 U.S. Open runner-up Karolina Pliskova, who are both ranked in the top 10. The team also includes Katerina Siniakova and Barbora Strycova.