(Reuters) - Rafa Nadal has pulled out of this week’s Brisbane International due to a left thigh problem, with the Spaniard saying he did not want to risk an injury ahead of this month’s Australian Open.
The world number two endured an injury-plagued 2018 season that saw him contest only nine tournaments due to hip, knee, abdomen and ankle injuries.
The 32-year-old did not play after retiring against Juan Martin del Potro in their U.S. Open semi-final last September and underwent ankle surgery two months later.
“I did an MRI and it shows a small staring on my left thigh,” Nadal, who was due to face Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the second round on Thursday, said.
“I tried to play, I wanted to play, but recommendations from the doctors (were otherwise).
“It’s a small thing that can become a much bigger... when you compete the intensity on the muscle it can get worse... I feel better than I did four days ago... it’s a risk to damage my body for one month if I play here.”
Despite a curtailed season, Nadal managed to win five titles last year, including a record-extending 11th French Open title that took his Grand Slam tally to 17.
He lost a three-set exhibition match against South Africa’s Kevin Anderson in Abu Dhabi last week and had indicated he was fighting fit ahead of the Brisbane tournament.
Lucky loser Taro Daniel will replace Nadal in the second round against Tsonga.
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly and Christian Radnedge