The 2013 Australian Open will be without one of the major stars of men's tennis as Rafael Nadal will miss the event with a stomach virus, according to the Associated Press.
Nadal would likely be healthy enough to play in the Australian Open, but his doctor says the No. 4 player in the world needs at least a week to recover from the virus, which would rule him out of the Qatar Open, beginning on Jan. 2. Nadal hasn't played a tournament since Wimbledon last June, and he wouldn't have time to get into match shape before opening play at the Aussie.
Nadal, who has won 11 Grand Slam events, including the 2009 Australian Open, has been sidelined with tendenitis in his left knee. But the Spaniard claims that injury has nothing to do with his withdraw from the year's first big tournament:
"My knee is much better and the rehabilitation process has gone well as predicted by the doctors," Nadal said in a statement. "But this virus didn't allow me to practice this past week, and therefore I am sorry to announce that I will not play in Doha and the Australian Open."
With Nadal unable to compete, the list of favorites for the Australian Open shrinks to Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray, who are ranked Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in the ATP world rankings, respectively. Djokovic won the 2012 Aussie Open, besting Nadal in a final that lasted 5 hours, 53 minutes, which was the longest Grand Slam final on record.
The 2013 Australian Open begins Monday, Jan. 14 in Melbourne.