Reigning Olympic tennis champion Rafael Nadal withdrew from the London Games because he said he’s in no shape to play. He had been scheduled to lead the Spanish team into the opening ceremony, carrying the national flag.
“I didn’t find myself in a fit enough condition to compete in the Olympics,” Nadal, a 11-time Grand Slam singles champion from Spain, said in an e-mailed statement today.
He had been treated for tendinitis in the knee but gave no details about his current condition.
“I had to think of my teammates, I could not be egotistical,” said Nadal, who won his seventh French Open title last month. “I had to think about Spanish sport, especially tennis, to allow a teammate of mine to play who is better prepared and in the right shape to compete.”
The Olympics start July 27 with the opening ceremony. Tennis begins a day later, at the grass courts of Wimbledon.
“It is one of the saddest days of my career as one of my biggest ambitions, that of being Spain’s flag bearer in the opening ceremony of the games in London, cannot be,” Nadal said. “You can imagine how difficult it was to take this decision.”
On July 4, Nadal said in a statement that he had knee tendinitis and that doctors had told him to rest for two weeks. He canceled a July 14 exhibition match in Madrid against Australian Open winner Novak Djokovic of Serbia.
The left-handed Nadal, who lost to No. 100-ranked Lukas Rosol in the second round at Wimbledon, has struggled with injuries throughout his career. In 2009, he pulled out of Wimbledon, where he was defending champion at the time, with knee tendinitis. He took the month of February off this year to recover from a shoulder injury.
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