An emotional Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from Wimbledon because of his continuing knee problems.
The world number one labelled his decision as “one of the worst moments in his career” and he becomes only the fourth champion not to defend his title.
The tournament's top seed was due to open his defence of the title against France's Arnaud Clement but Nadal made it clear he was not in the best shape to commit himself to the championship over two weeks.
Nadal, suffering from tendonitis in his knees, had pulled out of Queen's to try to get fit in time but it was obvious during two exhibition matches at Fulham's Hurlingham Club over the last two days, that he was nowhere near his best.
The Spaniard went down to Lleyton Hewitt in straight sets and lost to Stanislav Wawrinka yesterday.
His uncle and coach, Toni Nadal, hinted on Thursday that he was not at his best and the player confirmed his decision to withdraw from the tournament in a special press conference at SW19 last night.
“I am not 100%,” said Nadal.
“I don't feel I am ready to approach a tournament as important as Wimbledon.
“I have decided that I just cannot play this tournament this year. I tried everything, I worked very hard in the last weeks to arrive here in the best condition.
“Today was the last test and although I didn't feel terrible I was not close to my best.
“When I enter a tournament like Wimbledon I want to try to win but my feeling right now is that I am not ready to win.
“Not playing Wimbledon was one of the toughest decisions of my career. But the situation makes the decision a little bit easier.
“It is tough but at the same time, I have no option. I don't feel ready to compete at 100% for two weeks.
“I have played with some problems on the knees for the last few months.
“Now I am going to be out for some time but I don't know how long. I arrived at one of the most important moments in the year in my worst condition.
“I had physical problems in two of the most important tournaments for me — Roland Garros and Wimbledon — so it is tough to accept for me.
“I am going to work very hard to come back as soon as possible and when I do, I want to come back with 100% right both mentality and physically.
“One of the big problems now is that when I am playing, I am thinking more about the knees than the game. It is difficult to play like this. I want to come back feeling 100%.
“Nobody is more disappointed than me.”
Nadal's withdrawal means a re-shuffling of the draw but it leaves British star Andy Murray with an even better chance of reaching the Wimbledon final.
The 22-year-old Scot was paired in the same half of the draw as Nadal and if the tournament went to plan they would have met in the semi-finals.