Nadal misses Queen's to put Wimbledon in doubt

Rafael Nadal's participation at Wimbledon was thrown into doubt last night when he pulled out of next week's Aegon Championships at Queen's Club in London because of continuing problems with his knees. The world No 1 said he hoped to be ready to defend his title at the All England Club but has been advised to rest. Wimbledon starts a fortnight on Monday.

Nadal's withdrawal from Queen's, where he has played for the last three years despite winning the French Open final on the day before the tournament started, could also shed new light on his extraordinary defeat by Robin Soderling here in the fourth round last weekend. The Spaniard did not say at the time that he had a physical problem, but it would explain his insipid performance.

''I have been having some problems in the past months with my knees, that's no secret, that did not allow me to compete always at 100 per cent,'' Nadal said yesterday. ''I need to work with my team to recover well, work on my physical condition to be at my top form and get ready for the grass to play at Wimbledon. I hope I can be ready to compete by then.''

Nadal has been troubled by knee problems for some time now. His physical style of play has inevitably put stresses on his joints and until recently he played with strapping on both knees. He has played without the strapping in recent months, though he had said that did not mean that his problems had been solved.

The withdrawal of Nadal is a blow to the Aegon Championships, where Britain's Andy Murray, the world No 3, will now be the top seed, ahead of Andy Roddick, Gilles Simon and Gaël Monfils. Both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, world No 2 and No 4 respectively, are due to play next week in Germany at the Halle grass-court event.

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