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Nadal’s absence is sad: Federer

sports Updated: Jun 21, 2009 00:42 IST

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Roger Federer admits he was disappointed by Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal from Wimbledon because he would have relished the chance to take on his great rival in another epic final. Nadal, the World No 1 , opted to pull out of the All-England Club tournament on Friday after conceding that the knee tendonitis, which has bothered him for several years, was too painful to survive a gruelling two-week Grand Slam. Argentina’s Juan Del Potro has replaced him in the draw.

The Spaniard’s dramatic five-set victory over Federer in the Wimbledon final last year, regarded as one of the greatest matches of all time, shattered the Swiss star’s air of invincibility on the grass courts of south-west London.

Nadal’s decision not to defend his title leaves Federer as firm favourite to win Wimbledon for the sixth time and beat Pete Sampras’s record of 14 Grand Slam titles.

But, although he could have been forgiven for letting out a yelp of joy when he heard the news, Federer insists he felt a slight sense of anti-climax as it meant a temporary end to the rivalry.

“It’s disappointing for me, of course, because I’d love to play him. He’s my main rival,” Federer said at a pre-tournament press conference on Saturday.

“We’ve had some wonderful matches over the years, and especially the one here last year was the one that obviously stands out. So that we can’t repeat that is obviously sad,” said the world No 2.

“We played the last four years against each other in Paris. We played the last three years against each other here at Wimbledon. So we definitely won’t see the same finals again,” said Federer who will be the first on Centre Court against Taiwan’s Yen-Hsun Lu when the championship starts on Monday.