World No. 1 Rafael Nadal has aborted plans to play in Australian Open lead-up events in Brisbane and Sydney.
Nadal hasn't played since losing to David Goffin at the World Tour Finals in London and then immediately pulling out of the season-ending championships in mid-November with a knee injury. The Spaniard was scheduled to return to the court at the Brisbane International starting on Saturday, but he says he's not yet ready for competitive tennis.
"I am sorry to announce I won't be coming to Brisbane this year. My intention was to play but I am still not ready after last year's long season and the late start of my preparation," Nadal tweeted on Thursday.
He indicated he now planned to travel to Australia in January ahead of the Australian Open, the year's opening Grand Slam event, at Melbourne Park from Jan. 15.
Nadal reached the semifinals in Brisbane early this year before returning to his first Grand Slam final in two-and-a-half years three weeks later at the Australian Open.
But having has also withdrawn from the Fast4 exhibition event in Sydney on January 8 alongside Nick Kyrgios, Alexander Zverev and Grigor Dimitrov, the 16-times major winner is racing the clock to be fit for Melbourne Park.
"I had a great time [in Brisbane in 2017] and it was a great start to the month I spent in Australia," Nadal said.
"I will be seeing my Aussie fans when I land on the 4th in Melbourne and start there my preparation for the Australian Open."
Serious concerns over Nadal's fitness first surfaced last week when he cancelled a planned training block in Majorca with Portuguese player Joao Sousa.
The world No. 1 may not be the only high-profile scratching from the Brisbane International, with five-time Australian Open runner-up Andy Murray having delayed his planned Christmas arrival in Australia because of his chronic hip injury.