Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells as he continues to recover from the hip problem he suffered at the Australian Open.
The 36-year-old limped to a second-round loss against American Mackenzie McDonald and scans indicated the injury to his iliopsoas muscle would rule him out for between six and eight weeks.
This week marks six weeks since he sustained the problem but Nadal is not yet ready to return to the match court and has pulled out of the first Masters 1000 tournament of the year, which begins on March 8.
Tournament director Tommy Haas said in a statement: “We wish Rafa continued healing and hope to see him back at the BNP Paribas Open next year.”
The Californian desert has been a happy hunting ground for the Spaniard over the years, with Nadal winning the title in 2007, 2009 and 2013 and reaching the final for a fifth time last year, defying a fractured rib before losing to Taylor Fritz.
The second big American tournament of the year, the Miami Open, begins on March 22 but Nadal may well decide to wait for the start of his favoured clay season in April before making his return.
Missing Indian Wells, meanwhile, is likely to mean the end of Nadal’s record-breaking 18-year run as a top-10 player. The last time the Spaniard was not ranked in the top 10 was way back in April 2005.