Dominic Thiem has pulled out of this month’s tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami in another delay to his comeback.
The 2020 US Open champion has not competed since suffering a wrist injury in Mallorca last June.
He had originally hoped to return for the Australian Open but will not now be back on a match court until the clay season next month.
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The 28-year-old Austrian, whose ranking has dropped to 50, said on Instagram: “I had really good practice weeks. The wrist is perfectly fine, the hand is getting better and better, but still I decided to pull out of Indian Wells and Miami to start on the clay court.
“It’s still the surface where I feel the most comfortable so I think it’s the perfect time to start there.”
Indian Wells begins on Thursday, with Daniil Medvedev the top seed and Rafael Nadal bidding to win a fourth consecutive title to start the season.
Britain’s Cameron Norrie defends the title he brilliantly won in the delayed 2021 event last autumn.
Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska, who finished runner-up at the WTA tournament in Lyon on Sunday after fleeing her home city of Odessa, has been awarded a wild card into the women’s event.