Nadal, the world number one, opted to pull out of the All-England Club tournament on Friday after conceding that the knee tendinitis which has bothered him for several years was too painful to survive a gruelling two-week Grand Slam.
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.
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