Rafa Nadal has cast major doubts over his participation at the French Open after announcing his withdrawal from the Monte Carlo Masters. The 37-year-old tennis star hasn’t played an ATP event since Brisbane in early January, but was expected to return in Monte Carlo for the start of the clay-court swing.

Nadal is almost certain to announce his retirement at some stage this year, with many of the belief he might play the French Open before calling it quits. But there are serious doubts about whether he will even play his favourite grand slam, which he has won a record 14 times.Butter on Thursday evening he announced he won’t be playing the tournament he often features at and wins. “These are very difficult moments for me, sporting wise,” he said. “Unfortunately I have to tell you that I am not going to be playing in Monte Carlo. My body simply won’t allow me.

“And even if I am working hard and making the maximum effort every day with all the will to play and compete again at tournaments that have been very important for me, the truth is that I can’t play today. You have no idea how hard this is for me to not be able to play these events. The only thing I can do is to accept the situation and try to look at the immediate future keeping the excitement and will to play in order to give me a chance for things to get better.”

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