Nadal pulls out of Wimbledon
Defending champion bows to knee injury
Last Updated: 20/06/09 10:19am
Nadal: Knee problems
Defending champion Rafael Nadal has pulled out of Wimbledon after losing his second successive exhibition match on Friday.
The world number one, who has been struggling with persistent knee problems, lost 4-6 7-6 (8-6) 10-3 to number 19 seed Stanislav Wawrinka at the Hurlingham Club.
It was Nadal's second defeat of the week having gone down 6-4 6-3 to Lleyton Hewitt on Thursday.
The Spaniard lost for the first time at the French Open earlier this month before withdrawing from the AEGON Championship at Queen's last week in order to give himself a chance to be fit to defend his title at SW19.
But he has been in obvious discomfort in his two exhibition matches and feels he is not in shape to do himself justice next week.
"Not to play Wimbledon is one of the toughest decisions in my career but the decision was made easier because I don't feel ready to compete at 100 percent," he said.
"I don't feel like I'm ready to play in a tournament that is as important as Wimbledon.
"I tried everything, I tried hard in the last week to get in the best condition and today was my last test. I didn't feel terrible but I was not at my best."
The Mallorcan appeared more relaxed on Friday than he had 24 hours earlier against Hewitt - Nadal on that occasion grimacing frequently.
Even so, he felt that, having suffered knee problems for some months, he had "reached the limit" against Wawrinka.
Nadal, however, dismissed suggestions the injury was career threatening.
"It's not a chronic problem, I can recover for sure," he added. "I'm going to work very hard to come back as soon as possible, and when I came back I want to come back 100 percent mentality and physical (fit) to win, because the problem right now is when I'm playing I'm thinking more about the knees then about the game, so that is very difficult to play."
"I am 23 years old and I hope to have a long career and come back next year... no one is more disappointed than me and the (Wimbledon crowd) must understand I tried my best."
He is only the second reigning champion not to defend his title in the last 35 years, with the Goran Ivanisevic forced to retire with a shoulder injury after winning in 2001.
Fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro will take Nadal's place in the draw while 17th seed David Ferrer will take up del Potro's slot.
It means Andy Murray's attempt to win a first Grand Slam title has been made easier with del Potro now seeded to meet the world number three in the semi-finals.