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World number three Rafael Nadal will be unable to defend the Olympics title he secured in Beijing four years ago because of injury.

The defending men's singles champion has been forced to withdraw from the tournament in London due to an ongoing knee problem.

The 26-year-old, who continues to feature prominently in US Open betting, had also been scheduled to carry the flag for Spain at the opening ceremony, but tendinitis means that he will be unable to do so.

Four years ago Nadal beat Chile's Fernando Gonzalez in three sets to win the Gold medal. It proved to be a superb 2008 for the left hander as he also triumphed at the French Open and Wimbledon.

Nadal has 11 Grand Slam titles to his name in total, having won the final at Roland Garros seven times in the last eight years.

As well as winning at Wimbledon in 2008, he also defied certain tennis odds and triumphed at SW19 two years ago and won the Australian Open title in 2009 and the US Open two years ago.

A dejected Nadal confirmed: "I do not find myself in a condition to compete. It is one of the saddest moments of my career."

The absence of Nadal for the Wimbledon-staged tournament will come as a boost to the other leading contenders, especially Roger Federer, who recently won a record-equalling seventh title at SW19 and was a doubles Gold medallist alongside Stanislas Wawrinka four years ago.

Meanwhile, organisers at Wimbledon have confirmed that the tournament will move back a week from 2015 onwards, to allow a three-week break following the French Open.

In 2015, the action at SW19 will start on 29th June and end on 12th July.
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