Nadal out of Australian Open

York Press: Rafael Nadal is out of the opening grand slam of the year in Australia Rafael Nadal is out of the opening grand slam of the year in Australia

World number four Rafael Nadal has pulled out of the Australian Open due to a stomach virus.

The Spaniard has not played since suffering a shock second-round exit at Wimbledon to unheralded Czech Lukas Rosol due to a knee injury.

He had been due to return at this week's exhibition event in Abu Dhabi but the virus forced him to withdraw.

Former world number one Nadal, a winner of 11 grand slam titles, including one Down Under in 2009, told the Australian Open's official website: "I am sorry and very sad to announce that I will not play in the Australian Open.

"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."

Nadal has now targeted the Abierto Mexicano Telcel event in Acapulco, which starts on February 25, for his comeback - although he remains optimistic of returning before that.

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