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 and 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 last week, has disrupted Nadalâ€™s plans, so much so that he will have to miss the first Grand Slam of the year.
â€œI am sorry and very sad to announce that I will not play in the Australian Open,â€ the 26-year-old said in a statement.
â€œMy 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.
â€œBecause 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.
â€œYou need your body to be at its best for the Australian Open.
â€œIt was a difficult decision and I am extremely disappointed to be missing such a great event.
â€œI love coming to Melbourne and playing on Rod Laver Arena before the Australian crowds. It brings out the best in me.
â€œIt 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.â€
The 11 time Grand Slam winner was a beaten finalist in last yearâ€™s Australian Open, losing to Novak Djokovic after an epic contest that last ed five hours and 53 minutes â€”the longest major singles final in history.
Nadal will now target a defence of his French Open title.