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rafael nadal12009 champion Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from next month's Australian Open.

A stomach virus has plagued the Spanish superstar's preparation for the summer as he attempted to rejoin the tour for the first time since a mid-year knee injury. Ironically, in the end it was the virus, and not the knee, that prompted his decision.

"I am sorry and very sad to announce that I will not play in the Australian Open," the former champion said. "My knee is coming along okay, but a stomach virus has left me unable to get ready in time to tackle the rigours of a Grand Slam.

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At long last the caravan that rolls around through the year beginning Down Under, traversing the entire the entire world before pitching tent in London signaled a temporary halting of proceedings for 2012. This tennis year was one that could be described in many ways notably historic, phenomenal and perhaps more than any other 'a season of parity'. In a season of split successes amongst the 'Big Four' Novak Djokovic emerged as the first among equals on the ATP Tour while Victoria Azarenka took her place on top of the WTA rankings holding off Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.

It was a rare year that included the Olympics, held at London on this occasion and on the hallowed Wimbledon turf to boot, and the tournament was a wonderful addition to the calendar bringing forth a level of emotion dissimilar from those seen at the annual tournaments storied though they may be. Like any year, it had its moments of bitterness and controversy to balance the wonderful storylines and the remarkable achievements over the year. All in all this year was memorable and on that note let's take a dive down memory lane to review the professional tennis year of 2012.

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rafa_nadal_8While the news was always expected, Rafael Nadal decided to finally make it official, announcing his decision to withdraw from next week's Paris Masters and the ATP World Tour Finals that follow it in November. Interestingly, Nadal has never won either tournament, while his arch-rival Roger Federer is the defending champion in both tournaments.

The tennis world will be disappointed at not having another chance to see Rafa in action this year, with the Spanish left-hander not having hit a ball in anger since falling to unheralded Czech Lukas Rosol in the second round of Wimbledon four months ago.

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