Painful knee leads to Nadal's withdrawal from Wimbledon

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Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal (L) sits with Chief Executive of the All England Lawn Tennis Club Ian Ritchie during a news conference at Wimbledon in London June 19, 2009. Nadal pulled out of Wimbledon on Friday after losing his battle to recover from a knee injury.

LONDON, June 19 -- Champion Rafael Nadal pulled out of Wimbledon on Friday in consideration of his knee injury.

"Unfortunately this year I won't be able to play at Wimbledon," he told a news conference in Spanish.

The Spaniard, who has been struggling with tendonitis in his knees since being knocked out of the French Open last month, tested his fitness in two exhibition matches this week but after losing both decided not to defend his Wimbledon title just three days before the start of the major.

He will be the first man not to defend his All England Club crown since Croatia's Goran Ivanisevic skipped the grasscourt grand slam in 2002.