Former men’s tennis world No. 1 Rafael Nadal’s long-awaited return after an agonizing six-month knee injury battle has been put off because of a stomach infection he revealed on his Twitter and Facebook sites on Tuesday.
The 26-year-old Spaniard — who hasn’t played since his shock second round exit to 100th-ranked Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon in June — had been due to play in a six player exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi this week ahead of his return to the ATP circuit at Doha from Dec. 31.
He was due to join world No. 1 Novak Djokovic and US Open champion Andy Murray among others at the three day event.
“I am really sorry but I cannot compete this year in Abu Dhabi,” wrote the seven-time French Open champion and current world No. 4.
“Everything was ready and I was really eager to return to competition, but the doctors have forbidden me to participate in Abu Dhabi because of a viral infection of the stomach which has provoked a fever,” he wrote.
Nadal, an 11-time Grand Slam title winner, has been plagued by knee injuries throughout his career.
However, earlier this week he shrugged off any fears that he is no longer a threat to Djokovic, Murray and world No. 2 Roger Federer.
“I haven’t forgotten how to play. I have played over 600 ATP matches and I have spent two years without playing. My feeling is good. I won Roland Garros and those emotions are still me,” he said. “The doctors say the knee is fine and that is great news for me.”