By Houston Mitchell
10:14 AM EST, December 26, 2012
Rafael Nadal just can't buy a break. After sitting out seven months of the tennis season because of a knee injury, his long-awaited return has been delayed because of a stomach virus.
Nadal was scheduled to play in an exhibition in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Thursday, but he withdrew on Tuesday because he has a fever and his doctor advised him to rest.
"I am very disappointed that I will not be able to compete this year in Abu Dhabi," Nadal said.
"I was really excited about returning to play and I always have a wonderful experience at the event and this is the first time I will miss the tournament.
"My rehab has gone well, my knee feels good and I was looking forward to competing. Unfortunately doctors have informed me that my body needs to rest in order to fight this stomach virus. I would like to say sorry to all my fans in the United Arab Emirates and around the world, but I hope to play and win in Abu Dhabi again next year."
The 11-time Grand Slam singles champion hasn't played since June, when he lost to Lukas Rosol in the second round at Wimbledon.
The knee injury prevented Nadal from defending his singles gold at the Olympics in London. He also had to withdraw from the U.S. Open and Spain's Davis Cup final against the Czech Republic.