Madrid – World number four Rafael Nadal pulled out of the Australian Open on Friday, claiming he was still suffering from the stomach virus which caused him to cancel his plans to return to action in the Gulf this week.

Nadal, the 11-time Grand Slam title winner, has also withdrawn from the Qatar Open which starts on Monday and where he was due to play his first official tournament since losing in the second round at Wimbledon in June.

The Spaniard, who has been battling a crippling knee injury, had missed the Olympics, the US Open and Davis Cup final.

“My knee is much better but the virus didn't allow me to practice this past week and therefore I am sorry to announce that I will not play in Doha and the Australian Open,” Nadal said. – Sapa-AFP