Nadal won't defend
Knee woes cost him Wimbledon
WIMBLEDON, England - Rafael Nadal figured he couldn’t win Wimbledon this year because of his achy knees, so he decided it didn’t make sense to try.
Nadal withdrew from the grass-court Grand Slam tournament yesterday, three days before it begins, becoming only the second men’s champion in 35 years to decline to defend his Wimbledon title.
“When I start a tournament like Wimbledon, it is to try to win,’’ the No. 1-ranked Nadal said, “and my feeling right now is I’m not ready to play to win.’’
A subdued Nadal spoke at a news conference at the All England Club, in the same room where he took questions after beating Roger Federer in the epic 2008 final.
He announced his withdrawal about 2 1/2 hours after losing to 18th-ranked Stanislas Wawrinka in an exhibition on grass at Hurlingham Club in south London.
“Today was the last test. I didn’t feel terrible but not close to my best,’’ said Nadal.
Nadal called it “one of the toughest decisions of my career,’’ but he also added: “There’s no option. I don’t feel ready to compete 100 percent for two weeks.’’
Nadal has complained about his knees since a fourth-round loss to Robin Soderling at the French Open May 31 ended his streak of four championships at Roland Garros.
His exit opens the door for Federer to reclaim the No. 1 ranking, a spot he held for a record 237 straight weeks until Nadal pushed him to No. 2 in August.
Organizers were forced to shuffle the men’s bracket. No. 5-seeded Juan Martin del Potro was moved from a potential semifinal against No. 2 Federer on the bottom half of the field into Nadal’s old spot in the top half. It also means that No. 6 Andy Roddick, a two-time Wimbledon runner-up, now could face del Potro - rather than Nadal - in the quarterfinals.
On the women’s side, the Williams sisters could be set for another Wimbledon final after they were placed in separate halves of the bracket.
Defending champion Venus Williams may have to overcome top-ranked Dinara Safina in the semis, while Serena Williams could play fourth-ranked Elena Dementieva in the last four.
Safina will be coming off yesterday’s upset by defending champion Tamarine Tanasugarn, 7-5, 7-5, in the semifinals of the Ordina Open in Den Bosch, Netherlands.