Injury blow for Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal's US Open participation has been called into question by an injury which will force him to miss the next two ATP Masters events and wear a cast on his right wrist for up to three weeks.
The world number two won at Flushing Meadows last year, beating Novak Djokovic in the final for his 13th major title, to which he has since added this year's French Open.
But he faces a tight schedule to be fit for this year's event, which starts on August 25, after suffering an injury which will prevent him also defending his Rogers Cup and Western and Southern Open titles in Toronto and Cincinnati respectively earlier in the month.
A statement issued by Nadal's representatives B1PR read: "Spanish star Rafa Nadal won't be able to compete and defend his titles from last year in Canada and Cincinnati.
"The player felt some pain during practice in Mallorca getting ready for the North American swing. After some tests today at the Clinica Mapfre de Medicina del Tenis, the doctors found a minor detachment of the posterior cubital tunnel of his right wrist.
"The player must remain for two or three weeks with an immobilisation cast on his right wrist. Depending on the evolution of the injury that will be carefully followed by the doctors, including MRI tests, it will be decided then the return to competition, initially scheduled for the US Open."
Nadal told the Western & Southern Open website: "Unfortunately I injured my right wrist yesterday during practice and after the tests I have undergone today in Spain, including an MRI, and checking with my doctors, I will have to stay out of competition for at least 2-3 weeks.
"I am sorry and wish the best to the tournament and thank all of the fans for their support. I'm extremely disappointed that I am unable to defend my titles and compete in Toronto and Cincinnati this year. I was looking forward to coming and playing again after my great results last year."
The cubital tunnel houses the ulnar nerve, which runs from the elbow to the fingers and is colloquially known as the 'funny bone'.
Wrist injuries have been commonplace in tennis this season, with men's world number eight Juan Martin del Potro undergoing surgery and Laura Robson falling to fourth in the British women's rankings after a similar issue.
While Nadal's injury is to his right wrist, not his dominant hand, his two-handed backhand would still be badly affected.
The Cincinnati Masters tournament director Vince Cicero added: "It is very unfortunate that Rafa is unable to defend his title. He is a great champion, and his run to the title last year electrified our fans. We will miss him, and we wish him a very speedy recovery.
The men's field remains incredibly strong, with five-time champion Roger Federer, two-time champion Andy Murray, and Novak Djokovic, who is on a quest to become the first to complete the Career Golden Masters with a title here. We're looking forward to welcoming these men along with the top WTA stars to Cincinnati in just nine days."