Rafael Nadal has reportedly withdrawn from the Australian Open, which marks yet another bump in the road in the 11-time Grand Slam winner's return to the court.
EuroSport.com's official Twitter page broke the distressing news on Friday:
BREAKING: Rafael Nadal will miss the 2013 Australian Open tennis tournament because of illness— Eurosport.com EN (@EurosportCom_EN) December 28, 2012
Ever since losing in a shocking second-round match at Wimbledon in June 2012, Nadal has been forced away from tennis due to more knee troubles. Nadal has tendinitis in both knees, and has taken approximately six months to recover from a partial tear in his left patella tendon.
On Tuesday, Nadal indicated on his official Facebook account that he would not be playing in the exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi due to a stomach virus, which doctors told him to take care of before returning.
This is presumably a reflection of that same illness, and it is hopefully not something that will keep Nadal out for much longer. As tough and fiercely competitive as the 26-year-old modern legend has proven to be over the years, it's shocking for him to be sitting out another Grand Slam event.
If the nagging knee pain is as severe as it seems, it will simply present more adversity for Nadal to overcome. He has faced his share of that, working hard to rehab and put himself in position to return in early 2013.
Unfortunately for tennis fans and for Nadal, the future of his career will have to continue to be mere speculation at this point until he is physically able to reembark on what has been an illustrious run of tennis.
Check back here for the latest on Nadal's condition as more information becomes available.