Rafael Nadal pulls out of Australian Open
World number four has not played since Wimbledon
Rafael Nadal has announced that he will not participate in the 2013 Australian Open.
The world number four has been sidelined with a knee injury since a shock second-round exit at Wimbledon but had been on the verge of a comeback.
But a stomach virus, which forced the Spaniard to pull out of an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi this week, has disrupted Nadal's plans, so much so that he will have to miss the first Grand Slam of the year.
"I am sorry and very sad to announce that I will not play in the Australian Open," the 26-year-old said in a statement.
"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."
The 11 time Grand Slam winner was a beaten finalist in last year's Australian Open, losing to Novak Djokovic after an epic contest that last 5 hours and 53 minutes - the longest major singles final in history.
Nadal will now target a defence of his French Open title.
Manchester City vs Manchester United combined XI: No place for Yaya Toure... or any United defenders
EXCLUSIVE: F1 heading for eastern revolution as new team emerges from Romania
Impressive Kurt Zouma may save Chelsea millions by replacing John Terry
Radamel Falcao: Manchester United ready to seal permanent transfer of striker as 'everything is complete' to extend his Old Trafford stay
Daniel Sturridge injury: Liverpool striker suggests problems could be linked with 'Caribbean vibes'
- 1 2015 General Election: Green party will not appear in TV debate alongside Ukip – says BBC
- 3 Topshop at centre of row over body image as 'shocking' skinny mannequin photo goes viral
- 5 Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God is not 'a magician with a magic wand'
Huge surge in Ukip support after EU funding row, according to new poll
Ukip ‘exploiting grooming scandal’ to secure party’s first police chief
Nigel Farage: 'There’s nothing wrong with white people blacking up'
Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything
Maureen Lipman says 'she can't vote Labour while Ed Miliband is leader'