(Sporting Alert) Rafael Nadal has been forced to pull out of the Australian Open because of illness.
Nadal had hoped to make his competitive return at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi, but was forced to sit the tournament out after coming down with a stomach infection.
The Spaniard revealed that the struggles with the stomach virus hampered his recovery from a the long-term knee injury that kept him out for six months and he was not able to prepare properly.
Nadal has not played since suffering an upset second-round exit at Wimbledon and his arch rival and current World No. 1 Novak Djokovic was disappointed to see his comeback delayed.
“I am sorry and very sad to announce that I will not play in the Australian Open,” he said on the Australian Open’s official website.
“My knee is coming along okay, but a stomach virus has left me unable to get ready in time to tackle the rigours of a grand slam.
“Because of the virus, I have been unable to get any match practice and simply would not be doing myself or my friends in Australia justice if I went down there so unprepared.
“You need your body to be at its best for the Australian Open.
“It was a difficult decision and I am extremely disappointed to be missing such a great event.
“I love coming to Melbourne and playing on Rod Laver Arena before the Australian crowds. It brings out the best in me.
“It hurts to have to wait another 12 months before I get another chance. In the meantime, the focus is now on desperately trying to get back on the tour.”
Djokovic was optimistic about Nadal’s chances of returning to the court at the Australian Open in Melbourne early next month, but it will not happen.
“I was eager to see him play,” said Djokovic. “He has been off the tour for the past seven months and I am sure that all tennis fans and all sports fans want to see him back on the court, healthy and fit.
“I wish him, as a colleague, a fast recovery.
“It’s unfortunate and I’m sure he feels the biggest need to play tennis out of everybody and hopefully he can bit for the Australian Open which is the most important experience.”