World No. 4 Rafael Nadal has pulled out of next month’s Australian Open citing a stomach virus further delaying his comeback to tennis after experiencing knee tendinitis. The Spaniard played his last match in July, unexpectedly losing in five sets to then-ranked No. 100 Lukas Rosol in the second round of Wimbledon.
In recent weeks, Nadal has been in the spotlight as his knee was in full recovery and doctors allowed a return to the practice courts after mostly staying within the confines of the gym. Fans, media and Nadal himself were optimistic about his return to the Australian Open, but it was not meant to happen so soon.
“I always said that my return to competition will be when I am in the right conditions to play,” he said. “And after all this time away from the courts I’d rather not accelerate the comeback and prefer to do things well.”
Due to the virus, Nadal also pulled out of the upcoming Qatar Open and is aiming a return to competition at the Acapulco tournament which begins Feb. 27.
“My knee is much better and the rehabilitation process has gone well as predicted by the doctors,” Nadal said in a statement. “But this virus didn’t allow me to practice this past week, and therefore I am sorry to announce that I will not play in Doha and the Australian Open.”
For the full 2013 Australian Open entry list for the ATP, please click here.