World number one Novak Djokovic will not defend his Madrid Open title after pulling out of next month’s event.
The Serb, 33, said he was sorry he would not be able to travel to Madrid for the Masters 1000 event which starts on Sunday, four weeks before the French Open.
“It’s been two years already, quite a long time,” he added. “Hope to see you all next year.”
Last year’s Madrid event was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Djokovic was stunned last weekend by Russian world number 28 Aslan Karatsev in the semi-finals of the Serbia Open and earlier this month lost to Britain’s Dan Evans in Monte Carlo.
The Serb won his 18th Grand Slam title in February with victory at the Australian Open.
He is expected to play in Rome and Belgrade next month as part of his preparations for the French Open, which starts on 30 May.
Meanwhile, Wimbledon organisers announced that the traditional day of rest in the middle of the tournament would be scrapped from 2022 as they fine-tune plans for this year’s event.
The tournament — the only Grand Slam played on grass — is returning this year after it was cancelled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam that has a day off during the fortnight but this provides scheduling challenges, particularly when there is bad weather in the first week.
At the tournament’s spring press briefing, All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt said developments in the care of grass courts meant 14 days of play was now deemed possible.
The change means fourth-round matches, which have all been played on a packed day known as “manic Monday”, will be held across two days.
“That second Monday was popular with many people but it did create significant challenges,” said Hewitt. “I am not sure if it did full justice to that day’s tennis and we feel spreading it over two days does it more justice.
“I think it is important for the development of the sport that Wimbledon should be even more accessible to those who wish to watch it.”