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Rafael Nadal pulls out of London Olympics

Beijing gold medalist Rafael Nadal will not defend his men’s tennis singles title in London due to a lack of conditioning.

The world’s third-ranked player said in a statement that he is not fit to compete. He was set to be Spain’s flag bearer during the opening ceremony.

“I am not in condition to compete in the London Olympics and therefore will not travel as planned with the Spanish delegation to take part in the Games,” Nadal said in a statement.

Nadal, who saw his string of five consecutive grand slam final appearances snapped in a stunning second-round defeat at Wimbledon last month, has dealt with nagging knee injuries in recent years. His relentless, physical style of play on all surfaces combined with the unforgiving tennis calendar has taken a toll on the 26-year-old, but he was still eager to represent his country on the grass courts of the All England Club. And the ultimate decision to withdraw was hard to digest.

“(This) 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.”

With Nadal out of the competition, 2004 gold medalist and seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer will likely go into the tournament as a favorite, along with world No. 2 Novak Djokovic. Federer defeated Scotland’s Andy Murray in straight sets on July 8 to claim his seventh title.

More

Roger Federer beats Andy Murray to win seventh Wimbledon title

Federer overtakes Sampras to set record for most weeks spent at No. 1

At the All England Club, grass is the enduring star

As Olympics loom, so do problems

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