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Rafael pulls out of event

Rafael Nadal, the defending US Open champion, is to miss this year’s tournament at Flushing Meadows because of an injury to his right wrist

The 28-year-old, who plays left-handed but uses a two-handed backhand, has not played since his shock Wimbledon defeat by Nick Kyrgios in the last 16 at Wimbledon last month.

The Spaniard was hurt while practicing on his home island of Mallorca on July 29. The next day, Nadal said he had been told by doctors to wear a cast on his wrist for two to three weeks, and he was unable to play in the recent warm-up tournaments in Toronto and Cincinnati.

The problem, a new one for Nadal after long-running issues with his knees, means he is unable to defend the title he won against Novak Djokovic last year.

“I am very sorry to announce I won’t be able to play at this year’s US Open a tournament on which I’ve played three consecutive finals in my last participations,” Nadal wrote on his social networking page.

“I am sure you understand that it is a very tough moment for me since it is a tournament I love and where I have great memories from fans, the night matches, so many things...

“Not much more I can do right now, other than accept the situation and, as always in my case, work hard in order to be able to compete at the highest level once I am back.”

Missing major tournaments through injury is nothing new for Nadal. He was unable to defend his Wimbledon title back in 2009 when his problematic knees caused him to breakdown, with the same problem manifesting itself in 2012.

He missed the US Open in that year too and was absent from the court for the best part of nine months before returning to win the French and US Opens last year.

A 14th Grand Slam title followed on the clay of Roland Garros in May this year, but his pursuit of Roger Federer’s record of 17 will go on hold until the Australian Open in January at least.

Nadal won his second championship at Flushing Meadows in 2013, part of a run of reaching the final in each of his last three appearances in the US Open. He beat Novak Djokovic to win the titles in 2010 and last year, and lost to the Serb in 2011.

It is only the fourth time in the Open era, which began in 1968, that the reigning US Open men’s champion will not play the following year. The others were Ken Rosewall in 1971, Pete Sampras in 2003 and Juan Martin del Potro in 2010.