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Last week the tennis world was hit with a heavy blow as Rafael Nadal announced he would have to withdraw from the US Open due to a knee injury. The world number threeplayer has not played since he suffered a shocking loss in the second round of Wimbledon to Lukas Rosol.

Nadal broke the news of his withdrawal from the US Open to his fans via Facebook and Twitter.

From his official Twitter account: “I am very sad to announce that I am still not ready to play and have to withdraw from this year’s US Open in NYC.”

Nadal then took to Facebook, where he had a special message for the people in New York;

 “I am sorry since I always found greats and great support, but I have to continue my recuperation and preparation to be ready to play in the right conditions. I want to say hi and thanks to all the fans in particular to the New Yorkers. I’ll miss you all this year at the Open.”

Nadal is not looking to rush back to action anytime soon. Nadal is listening to his body and his doctors. He released a statement from his home in Mallorca saying, “I have to listen (to the doctors and be patient, and I will come back when my knee is well. The best thing I can do now is to stop, get fully well, accept the situation and work hard to come back better.”

He is eyeing a return to competition by September 14th, when Spain takes on the United States in Davis Cup competition. However, he did not make any promises. Nadal said on Twitter, “If (my knee) is well in time for Davis Cup and the captain wants me, I will be happy to be there. It would be exciting and a great moment to return.”

The third-ranked Spaniard reached the final of at Flushing Meadows the last two years, where he won the title in 2010 to complete the career Grand Slam, then losing to the eventual champion Novak Djokovic in 2011. Though Nadal has reached the final at the US Open in the last two years, it has been considered by some Nadal’s weakest tournament.

After his second round loss at Wimbledon, Nadal announced he would cancel his charity tournament with Novak Djokovic, citing tendon problems in his knees. He would then have to withdraw from the 2012 London Olympics, where he was the defending gold medalist from Beijing and was set to carry the flag for Spain in the opening ceremony. Nadal also opted to skip hard court tournaments in Toronto and Cincinnati to give his knees more time to rest.

This was not the first time Nadal has been sidelined by his knees. In 2009 Nadal withdrew from Wimbledon citing tendinitis in his knees and becoming the second man in 35 years to decline to defend his title at the All England Club. Nadal missed seven weeks of competition and came back stronger than ever.

Nadal and his camp are hoping for the same result after the longest hiatus for Nadal in his career. Nadal wants to be able compete on the highest level each week on the tour and have a chance to win the tournament. Nadal said, “The most important thing for me is not the ranking, but my ability to compete like I did in the first six months of the season, with a solid chance to win each tournament I enter.”

Is it time to push the panic button on Rafael Nadal’s career? No, but Nadal may have to consider taking time off in between tournaments like Roger Federer has done over the past year to keep his body refreshed. With the hard court season being the longest in the sport of tennis, the surface can wear down the body of a competitor like Nadal who gives it his all on every point.

This injury can be a blessing in disguise for Nadal who has not performed well at the year-end championships as of late. Nadal has been physically and mentality tired when the year-end tournament have rolled around in London and this time off could be the thing he needs to be ready to go in London in November.

The play begins at the two-week tournament on August 27 in New York.