Eleven-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal hasn't played a tour match since his shocking second-round ouster last June at Wimbledon and he won't be playing any time soon in the new year.
Nadal announced on his Facebook page that he's withdrawing from the 2013 Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha next week, and the Australian Open next month because of a stomach virus that has prevented him from practicing. He's already withdrawn from this week's exhibition match in Abu Dhabi.
"My knee is much better and the rehabilitation process has gone well as predicted by the doctors, but this virus didn’t allow me to practise this past week," he said.
“I will have to wait until the [Abierto Mexicano Telcel] Acapulco tournament to compete again although I may consider to play before [that] at another ATP World Tour event.”
Although Nadal blames stomach flu, tennis watchers think the 26-year-old's knees are the real reason he's not ready to compete. Yahoo! Sports reports fellow Spaniard Nicholas Almagro seemed surprised that the former world number one and 2009 Australian Open champ wouldn't be returning to Melbourne.
"It's five sets, his knee's not really good, he's not ready for that," Almagro told reporters at the Abu Dhabi tournament. There was no mention of intense intestinal distress. Nadal has suffered from tendonitis in both knees and has been recovering from a tear in the patellar tendon in his left knee and an impingement of the fat pad behind the kneecap.
There's no schadenfreude among Roger Feder's fan base. Most of the comments on the ATP's website are expressing sadness that Fed's archrival won't be around to push the Greatest of All Time to new heights of....well, greatness.
Federer's road to his 18th Grand Slam title and fifth Australian Open title has to go through defending champion and world number one Novak Djokovic first. Oddsmakers have the Serb as the favorite to win.