Rafael Nadal declared himself out of the Australian Open next month.
He said Friday that a recent stomach virus has affected preparations for a return to the court. Nadal, who won the Australian Open in 2009, has been rehabbing a knee injury that has kept him off the court since he played at Wimbledon in July.
"I am sorry and very sad to announce that I will not play in the Australian Open," Nadal said, according to USA Today. "My knee is coming along OK, 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."
The 2013 season's first major tournament begins Jan. 14 in Melbourne.
"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," Nadal said. "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 lost to Novak Djokovic in the 2012 Aussie men's final.
"It is completely understandable and we really feel disappointed for him," tournament director Craig Tiley said. "But without any match practice and without sufficient lead up time on the practice court, it makes it virtually impossible for him to get his body ready."