It's not as important as Wimbledon. You are right. Why was Nadal not in the final there this year, and not playing in 09?
Duh,,,,,,, because of the Australian Open. The Australian Open destroyed Nadal's body in 2009 and 2012. Playing 7 rounds on that suicide surface is too much. His knees got worse and worse since the AO until they were gone by mid-year. You just observed it in 2012. Same thing in 2009.