• ATP Tour

Nadal does not fear rankings slide

ESPN staff
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Rafael Nadal will not rush his recovery from tendonitis in his knees © Getty Images
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Rafael Nadal has put his long-term future ahead of short-term success by insisting he will only return to action when he regains full fitness.

Nadal has been forced onto the sidelines after a recurrence of tendonitis in his knees - something that has plagued him throughout his career - and has subsequently withdrawn from the US Open.

The world No. 3, who has not played since his shock defeat to Lukas Rosol in the second round at Wimbledon, says his sole focus is overcoming his knee problems - even if that leads to a fall in the rankings.

"Now I'm not bothered if I'm third or fourth in the ATP," he said. "The most important thing is to be physically fit. I've missed too many important tournaments to continue taking risks. I'll return when my knee is better.

"I'm saddened not to be able to compete in the US Open because it's a tournament in which I've always felt great support but I can't take risks."

Although no timeline has been mentioned regarding a comeback date, Nadal's uncle and coach, Toni, is not ruling out the 11-time grand slam champion competing for Spain in the Davis Cup semi-final against America next month.

Speaking to Spanish radio, he added: "It was the right decision. This pause will further prolong his career and, possibly, he will have no more problems in the future."

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