Rafael Nadal refuses Dubai WC, saying he is not ready to play yet

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Rafael Nadal refuses Dubai WC, saying he is not ready to play yet

World no. 2 Rafael Nadal kindly refused a wild card for the next week's Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, saying he is not ready to compete yet. Nadal experienced a back injury during the Adelaide quarantine in January, skipping the ATP Cup and entering the Australian Open with low expectations.

The Spaniard scored four victories in straight sets to reach the quarters without spending too much time on the court, playing well and having a massive chance to extend the winning streak and enter the last four. Instead of that, Stefanos Tsitsipas ousted Nadal in thrilling five sets, delivering marvelous performance behind the initial shot from set number three and prevailing in the decisive moments to score an exciting 3-6, 2-6, 7-6, 6-4, 7-5 triumph in four hours and five minutes!

Shifting into a higher gear with his back pushed against the wall, Stefanos controlled his service games' pace in the third set and grabbed a tie break 7-4 for a massive boost. Nadal made some loose smash errors in the breaker, and they would cost him dearly, as he couldn't regain momentum in the rest of the clash, hanging in but not doing enough to cross the finish line first.

The pressure was on Rafa in sets four and five, and he couldn't endure it after losing the drive, getting broken once in each to hit the exit door. Nadal lost the pace a bit with his groundstrokes as the match went on and struggled more and more on the return to put Stefanos in the driving seat.

Rafael Nadal will not compete in Dubai this year.

Simultaneously, Tsitsipas threw everything he had on his opponent, delivering one good hold after another and completing his most remarkable career victory to advance into the second Australian Open semi-final in three years.

The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships organizers wanted to see Rafa in their draw next week, offering an invitation that the 20-time Major champion had to refuse, staying away from this prestigious event for the 13th straight year!

Between 2004-2008, Nadal played in Dubai four times, winning the title over Roger Federer in 2006 and losing in the quarters in the next two years. "I would like to thank the @DDFTennis for the wild card invitation sent to me.

We seriously thought about coming to play, but I don't think I am ready to play yet. Once again, thanks to the tournament's kind invitation and best of luck with the tournament," Rafael Nadal said.