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RAFAEL NADAL’S DECISION TO MISS WIMBLEDON, OLYMPICS PART OF LARGER GAMBIT TO PROLONG CAREER

At 35, Rafael Nadal says he’s skipping Wimbledon and the Olympics to try to “prolong my career.” Roger Federer, who started skipping Roland Garros at 34, should give Rafa hope that there will be life, and major titles, in his late 30s.

When Rafael Nadal walked off having lost for just the third time at Roland Garros on Friday, I wondered how he would get himself into the right frame of mind to try to climb another Grand Slam mountain at Wimbledon two weeks later. It would mean putting a defeat on what is essentially his home court, to his biggest rival, Novak Djokovic, behind him. It would mean adjusting to grass in 14 days instead of the usual 21, after spending two tough months on clay. It would mean finding a way to believe he could win a tournament he hasn’t won since 2010. Nadal doesn’t play majors to make the third or fourth round, or even the semifinals. It’s win or bust for him.

It turns out Rafa couldn’t do it. On Thursday, he announced that he won’t play Wimbledon or the Olympics this summer.

“It’s never an easy decision to take but after listening to my body and discuss it with my team I understand that it is the right decision,” Nadal said in a statement. “The goal is to prolong my career and continue to do what makes me happy, that is to compete at the highest level and keep fighting for those professional and personal goals at the maximum level of competition.”

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