THEY are dropping like flies – an olde English saying – but one very appropriate to the 2023 Slam summer swing.

On Thursday 22-time Major winner Rafael Nadal, undoubtably one of the greatest, announced he would not be competing at Roland Garros, his favourite Major.

It will be the first time since 2004 Nadal has not played Paris, but a hip injury that has dogged him for four months has seen to that.

Nadal injured his left hip at the Australian Open second round in January and has missed eight tournaments since.

The drama unfolded at his training camp in Mallorca on Wednesday when the injury beer thought he had under control flared up again.

The Spanish legend had to wrap his session up early as Carlos Moya and Marc Lopez looked on.

His doctors subsequently confirmed Paris was a no-go.

In the press conference held at his academy on Thursday, Nadal discussed his plans for the future, including bringing down his career in 2024.

And Nadal, quite rightly, doesn’t want to retire in a press conference. He wants to be at every major at least once more.

“I don’t like the word but I feel strong enough to say it: I don’t think I deserve to end like this. I’ve worked hard enough throughout my career for my end not to be in a press conference,” he said.

“After that you never know what can happen.”

A party perhaps? No, way, said the Spaniard.

“I’m going to try to compete at the highest level.”

The party can come later.

Rafa Nadal will miss Roland Garros for the first time since 2004.
Photo: Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd

MEANWHILE, on the other aside of the planet, another drawcard player gave his reasons for not playing at Roland Garros.

Not that Roland Garros is a favoured venue. Nick Kyrgios is not a fan of clay.

But the Aussie revealed he had sustained a cut to his foot when a man allegedly stole his car at gunpoint.

Many fans thought his non-appearance was due to his knee injury and subsequent surgery, bit no… his agent told The Canberra Times the knee was “fine” and a nasty cut to the foot was why he would not be in Paris.

Police recover Kyrgios’ lime green car.

“The knee surgery went as well as it possibly could and his rehabilitation was fantastic and we were at the point where we were doing on-court loading and management,” Daniel Horsfall told the newspaper.

“We needed to be at a point that he could comfortably play five sets. Right when we were getting stuck into the loading period, the (alleged) armed robbery happened at his house.

“During the ordeal he cut his foot quite badly. It’s not healing correctly and he can’t put in the work on court, so he’s been off court for almost two weeks now.”

A man had allegedly pointed a gun at Kyrgios’s mother before stealing his lime-green Tesla near his home in Canberra.

Kyrgios called police and using an app on his phone helped them track his car’s location.

AND Novak Djokovic doesn’t escape scrutiny either.

Djokovic, who recently stated his disappointment with the media over the way he was treated for his refusal to be vaccinated against Covid, could be knocked off second spot on the ATP rankings after an equally disappointing Rome tournament.

The Serb said the “shift of generations” had finally arrived after this loss to 20-year-old Dane Holger Rune in the Italian Open quarter-finals.

“A new generation is here already,” Djokovic told reporters.

“Alcaraz is No. 1 in the world from Monday, obviously he’s playing amazing tennis. I think it’s also good for our sport that we have new faces, new guys coming up.

“We’ve been saying this for years that we can expect that moment to come when you have a kind of shift of generations.

Novak Djokovic has claimed ’95 per cent’ of media stories about him were false.

“I’m personally still trying to hang in there with all of them. I still have the hunger to keep going. Let’s see how far I’m going to play.”

And that Covid refusal?

Well, Djokovic is still playing the victim, saying in an interview with Corriere Della Serra, 95 per cent of the media stories about him were false.

“I suffered everything on my skin. Many people have appreciated that I have remained consistent. 95 per cent of what has been written and said on TV about me in the last three years is totally false,” he said.

“I’m not no vax and I’ve never said I was in my life. I’m not even pro vax. I am pro choice. I defend freedom of choice.”

Iga Swiatek is another star struggling with injury ahead of the French Open, which begins in eight days time.
Photo: Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd

AND another draw card, two-time defending champion Iga Swiatek, will go to Paris struggling to overcome a thigh injury.

Swiatek retired in the third set of her quarter final against Elena Rybakina in Rome because of a right thigh injury.

A glimpse into our wonderful trip to Lesotho, wrote Roger Federer on his FB page this week. Federer, through his mum, has long had charitable links with Lesotho and South Africa.

SHE said what?

The semifinal clash in Rome between Elena Rybakina and Jelena Ostapenko ended in some heated words last week as the pair met at the net following Rybakina’s win.

Ostapenko, never backward in coming forward with her thoughts, as Rybakina’s coach Stefano Vukov said he heard Ostapenko call his player a ‘bitch’.

“She told her you’re a bitch in front of me,” Vukov said.

Simona Halep is facing more doping charges. Photo: Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd

FORMER world No. 1 Simona Halep isn’t happy after being charged with a second doping offence over what has been called “irregularities” in her athlete biological passport.

Halep has hit out at authorities claiming she is the victim of harassment from the International Tennis Integrity Agency.

Halep has refuted the extra charges after the ITIA issued a second set of charges after they allegedly detected an abnormal evolution in her blood.

Halep has since said she has had her blood samples analysed by independent experts who disagree with the ITIA findings.

“Since October 7, when I got charged by the ITIA for a suspicion of doping, I have lived the worst nightmare I have ever gone through in my life,” Halep said in a statement published to her social media accounts.

“Not only has my name been soiled in the worst possible way, but I am facing a constant determination from the ITIA for a reason that I cannot understand, to prove my guilt while I haven’t EVER even thought of taking any illicit substance.

“I tried two times to have the opportunity to be judged by an Independent Tribunal and the ITIA has constantly found reasons to postpone.

“Now that we have clearly established that I have been victim of a contamination, they came up with a so-called not normal evolution of my blood. Three world renowned experts that have studied my blood tests have been extremely clear that my blood is totally normal.”

Emma Raducanu poses for a photo with coach Andrew Richardson at the 2021 US Open. Photo: Garrett Ellwood/USTA

EMMA Raducanu’s former coach Andrew Richardson has revealed how he was dumped by the Brit’s agent after she had won the US Open in 2021.

Richardson said last week he wanted to negotiate a long-term deal, but received “ga brief call” from her agent and that was the end of their partnership.

Raducanu has since had four different coaches and has been criticised over her constant coaching changes.

“The fact of the matter is that I had a nine-week trial contract that both Emma and I thought was a good idea to see how we would get on, and it ran through to the end of the US Open, stopping immediately afterwards,” Richardson said.

“There was a period of time after that when I was keen to re-negotiate the contract. I wanted to carry on, and I had a plan that I wanted to put in place for Emma. This thing about ‘I wanted to go off and coach my son’ is not true, but it seems to come up all the time.

“After probably 10 days to two weeks after the US Open, I didn’t have a contract. We were in the process of re-negotiating, and then I got a brief call from her agent telling me they were going to go in a different direction.”

AND finally ….

There was no handshake between Anhelina Kalinina and Veronika Kudermetova at the Rome Open with the ongoing Russia – Ukraine war the reason.

Ukrainian Kalinina, who is currently housing her family in her own apartment after their house was bombed and destroyed, responded that it was nothing personal:

“The girl is from Russia. It’s no secret why I didn’t shake, because this country is actually attacking Ukraine. Yes, this is sport. But it’s also a politician thing. So it’s nothing personal. But in general, this isn’t acceptable,” she said.