Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the Queen’s tournament to rest a knee injury. The defending champion is hopeful of being fit for Wimbledon but at the very least this will disrupt his preparations and inspire confidence in his opponents, not least Roger Federer.
“I have been having some problems in the past months with my knees that have not allowed me to always compete at 100%,” said Nadal. “I need to work with my team to recover well, work on my physical condition to be at my top form and get ready for the grass to play at Wimbledon. I hope I can be ready to compete by then.”
If Nadal isn’t fit for The Championships, it would be just the second time a reigning champion has not defended their Wimbledon title, according to the All England Club’s librarian. Goran Ivanisevic missed Wimbledon 2002 after shoulder surgery.
Nadal has been dogged by knee problems, when he lost to Andy Murray at Rotterdam in February this year he was clearly troubled by his right knee and he missed the end of the 2008 season, including the Davis Cup final, because of tendinitis.
“The tennis calendar has been extremely hard and forces players to compete week in week out, making it impossible for a top-level player to be 100 per cent for each event,” Nadal said in November, 2008. “Competing at so many events might have harmed, especially at the end of the season, my physical condition, taking away the freshness needed to play at the top level.”
This is not the first time Nadal has been injured. He also missed the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup in 2005 and the start of the 2006 season with a foot injury and lost a further three months in 2004 with a stress fracture to his ankle. Compare that to Federer, whose only serious injury was a pulled groin muscle that ruled him out for six weeks in 2001 and a bout of glandular fever at the start of last year.