The 2013 Australian Open is missing one of its most storied competitors. With Rafael Nadal out of the tournament due to injury and illness, it almost feels as if the fun was just sucked out of the entire competition.

There will be no Djokovic-Nadal rematch this season, unfortunately. It’s such a shame considering how epic the 2012 match was. Nadal was so close to beating his rival, but he sort of fizzled toward the end and lost the six-hour final.

It would have been great seeing a rematch of last year’s competitive game. But we won’t be getting more this time around.

To get a feel of how huge that potential final would have been in this year’s Australian Open, just consider the history of the two. This is a rivalry that has intensified over the past few years. Both players met one another in four straight Grand Slam finals from 2011 to 2012. Djokovic took the first three and Nadal finally won the last one in the French Open last summer.

It’s a rivalry that easily demands the attention of the sport. Just consider the following tagline: The cool and collected Nadal facing off against the rowdy and always emotional Djokovic in a battle for the sport’s top seed. The tagline itself guarantees the kind of thrill and excitement that we all long for when watching sports. But when Nadal left the game, fans were left craving more.

To a lesser extent, the other great rivalry of Nadal and Federer will be put on hold for a few more weeks. Granted, this bout has waned over the years, but simply having these two going off against one another would have been a treat welcomed by all.

Nadal, of course, is already one of the most successful tennis players of all-time. His six-month hiatus has left a giant hole in the sport of tennis. Without him, the excitement has been lacking in a huge way. It’s almost as if tennis became too dependent on this one player when it came to thrilling competition. If that’s the case, hurry up, Nadal. Tennis needs you desperately.