Rafael Nadal withdraws from scheduled third-place match at Mubadala World Tennis Championship
World No 2 lost semi-final earlier Friday to Kevin Anderson 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
Rafael Nadal will play no further part at the 2018 Mubadala World Tennis Championship after deciding to rest his body following his first match on court since September.
The world No 2 lost 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to defending champion Kevin Anderson in their semi-final clash on Friday, in a match that lasted just under two hours.
He had been due to play in Saturday's play-off for third place, but that will now not be the case after he announced his withdrawal.
Nadal's 2018 season was cut short after knee problems forced him to retire from his US Open semi-final against Juan Martin del Potro.
While he had suffered no physical setbacks against Anderson, Nadal said making sure he was fully fit for the Australian Open in January was his priority.
"I will not play," he said of the decision. "I will take a couple of days off ahead of the new season."
"This tournament, it was a goal to be here. I am very happy to have been here."
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Nadal said he had spoken with organisers, adding: "I cannot thank enough the tournament organisation for the understanding."
Nadal said he still planned to compete in Brisbane ahead of the Australian Open, with the first major of the season starting in Melbourne on January 14.
“I want to do things step by step. I spent more time on the court than I thought," said the Spaniard.
"I am not making steps back, just steps forward all the time, taking care of my body after a while without having a chance to be on court and trying to do things slowly.
"It's important for me to protect the body and to avoid tough circumstances.
"I know I have time to be ready for Melbourne at 100 per cent."
There was no immediate confirmation from organisers if a replacement will step in for Nadal in his third-place play-off Karen Khachanov, who lost his semi-final to world No 1 Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-2 in Friday's second semi-final.
Updated: December 29, 2018 01:23 PM