Last updated: February 19. 2013 11:59PM - 131 Views

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BARCELONA, Spain — Just when Rafael Nadal had recovered from a knee injury, a stomach virus has delayed his return to tennis by a couple of months.


Nadal announced Friday he will miss next month's Australian Open and probably won't play again until the end of February. The Spaniard said he needs time to recover from the virus that already prevented him from coming back this week at Abu Dhabi.


Nadal has been sidelined since June with a knee injury, which forced him to miss the London Olympics and U.S. Open. He had planned to rejoin the ATP tour at the Qatar Open in Doha next month before the Jan. 14-27 Australian Open, but pulled out of both.


We just hope he gets better quickly and we see him back on the tour as soon as possible, Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said. Tennis fans across the world have been missing him.


While he is expected to recover from the virus in time for the year's first Grand Slam tournament, Nadal and his team said he wouldn't have the proper preparation for a five-set event.


Nadal stressed that his decision had nothing to do with the tendinitis in his left knee. That injury prompted him to take a break following a second-round loss to then 100th-ranked Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon in June.


My knee is much better and the rehabilitation process has gone well as predicted by the doctors, Nadal said in a statement from his hometown of Manacor on the island of Mallorca. 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.


The former No. 1 hopes to return at a tournament in Acapulco, Mexico, starting Feb. 27.

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