Rafael Nadal has pulled out of the Brisbane Open citing a slow pace of recovery following a strenuous 2017 season. The Spaniard is likely to be back in action for the Australian Open as he recovers from a setback on his knee, which kept him out of the ATP World Tour Finals.

The Spaniard was expected to return to action at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, which takes place in Abu Dhabi from 28-30 December before the start of the 2018 season. However, he has withdrawn from the event and has been replaced by fellow compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut.

His next date was set for Brisbane, with the tournament director recently stating that both him and Andy Murray are still on for the event.

I expect Rafa and Andy to arrive in Brisbane to start the 2018 year," tournament director Cameron Pearson said, as quoted by the Express. "That's what our communication with both teams of the players has been over the past few days. Nothing has really changed."

However, the Spaniard declared on Twitter that he will not be taking part in the tournament raising doubts over his participation in the Australian Open despite his claims that he will be back in action before the Slam goes underway. Nadal has won the Australian Open only once, having also made the finals last year, where he lost to Roger Federer.

"I am sorry to announce I won't be coming to Brisbane this year. My intention was to play but I am still not ready after last year's long season and the late start of my preparation," Nadal tweeted on Thursday.

"I had a great time there (in Brisbane in 2017) and it was a great start to the month I spent in Australia," Nadal added. "I will be seeing my Aussie fans when I land on the 4th in Melbourne and start there my preparation for the Australian Open."

Nadal reached the semi-finals in Brisbane early this year which served as good preparation for the season's first marquee event, where he excelled but for the finals.

The world No1 may not be the only high-profile scratching from the Brisbane International, with five-times Open runner-up Andy Murray having delayed his planned Christmas arrival to Australia because of his chronic hip injury.

Pictures of the Year 2017 sport
Rafael Nadal celebrates with the trophy after winning the French Open men's singles final against Stan Wawrinka Christian Hartmann/Reuters