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Nadal hopes to defend crown

CHAMPION Rafael Nadal will do all he can to fix problems with his knees and be fit to defend his Wimbledon title this month, he said yesterday after tests at a clinic in Barcelona.

The world No. 1 was forced out of this week's traditional Wimbledon warm-up tournament at Queen's Club with tendinitis and said he faced two tough weeks of recuperation before Wimbledon gets under way on June 22.

"I will give 200 percent to be at 100 percent for the most important date in world tennis and the tournament that has always excited me the most," the Spaniard said in a statement. "I have been playing with pain in my knees for several months and personally I cannot continue like this," he added.

"The pain was limiting me physically in certain movements which meant I was also suffering mentally. I will not take to any court, and certainly not the Wimbledon center court, unless I know I am 100 percent."

After his shock defeat to Robin Soderling at the French Open nine days ago, Nadal said he had been advised to rest by doctors and pulled out of Queen's in London, where he was also defending champion.

He said he'd have physiotherapy in the coming days and Spanish tennis federation doctor Angel Ruiz Cotorro said the treatment would include anti-inflammatory drugs and muscle work.

Nadal has blamed his injury problems on what he calls the overloaded tennis calendar and last season missed the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai and Spain's Davis Cup victory over Argentina.

He said he would travel to London next Tuesday.

Last year, Nadal beat Roger Federer at the All England Club in the longest men's championship match in tournament history.

"I was surprised to see him pull out of Queen's, and now the debate that he might pull out of Wimbledon is quite frightening," Federer said on Monday in Paris, a day after succeeding Nadal as French Open champion. "I don't like to see it, because you want the best to be playing in the biggest events."

Meanwhile, former top-ranked player Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain has been handed a wildcard for Wimbledon.


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