Madrid: World number one Novak Djokovic pulled out of the Madrid Masters on Saturday, joining Rafael Nadal in missing the tournament with the French Open just five weeks away.
Both men are vying for a record-extending 23rd Grand Slam title at Roland Garros, with the tournament beginning on May 28.
Djokovic, a two-time French Open winner, has been struggling with an elbow problem while Nadal, champion in Paris on 14 occasions, has been sidelined with a hip injury since January.
“Novak Djokovic is unable to compete at the Madrid Open,” the organisers wrote on Instagram ahead of the tournament which starts April 26.
“Wishing you a speedy recovery, we hope to see you back on court as soon as possible, Nole.”
Australian Open champion Djokovic, 35, suffered a straight-sets defeat by Serbian compatriot Dusan Lajovic in the quarter-finals at Banja Luka in Bosnia-Herzegovina on Friday.
He was beaten by underdog Lorenzo Musetti at the Monte Carlo Masters earlier in April and said ahead of the Bosnian event that his elbow was “not in an ideal condition”.
Djokovic missed tournaments earlier this year at Indian Wells and Miami, over his refusal to get a Covid-19 vaccination.
“I was many levels below what I want,” said Djokovic on Friday, after his defeat by world number 70 Lajovic.
“Playing like that, I can’t win against opponents who are so solid on this surface. But what can I do? It’s simply sport. I was trying but it wasn’t working.
“I didn’t feel very good physically on court. My legs were slow, I missed a lot of balls. I played well at times, but generally well below standard.”
Djokovic has triumphed three times in Madrid, but was beaten there last year by Carlos Alcaraz in the semi-finals.
– No deadline –
Nadal, 36, has not been able to play since losing in the second round of the Australian Open in January because of his hip issue.
He pulled out of last month’s hard-court tournaments in the US, with his sights set on a return at the start of the clay-court season, but it did not come to fruition.
“In principle it was supposed to be a recovery period of six to eight weeks and now we’re around 14,” said Nadal on Thursday when he pulled out of the Madrid Masters.
“The reality is that the situation is not what we would have hoped for. All medical indications have been followed, but the healing has not gone as they told us initially and we find ourselves in a difficult situation.”
Nadal, who turns 37 in June, said he and his team have decided to try a different treatment and see if things improve, but that he was not setting a deadline for his comeback.
“I can’t give deadlines because if I knew I would tell you, but I don’t know,” he added. “This is how things are now.”
Nadal has featured in every edition of the French Open since his title-winning debut in 2005 and boasts an astonishing record of 112 wins against just three losses — two of them coming against Djokovic.