MADRID (AP) — Rafael Nadal will miss the Australian Open because of a stomach virus, further delaying his comeback after being sidelined since June.
The Spaniard also will skip the preceding Qatar Open. The Australian Open, the year’s first Grand Slam tournament, begins Jan. 14. The virus kept Nadal from making his return at Abu Dhabi this week.
Nadal said Friday his withdrawals had nothing to do with the tendinitis in his left knee, which forced him to take a break last summer following his second-round loss at Wimbledon to then 100th-ranked Lukas Rosol. Nadal also missed the London Olympics.
“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.”
The former No. 1 player hopes to return at Acapulco, Mexico, starting Feb. 27. However, he did not rule out playing an earlier tournament if his recovery went well enough.
“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.”
Nadal, ranked No. 4, won the Australian Open in 2009. Last year, he lost to top-ranked Novak Djokovic in a title match that lasted 5 hours, 53 minutes, the longest recorded Grand Slam final.