‘Bit scared Nadal’ suffers injury worry before Australian Open
BRISBANE, Australia (AFP)— Spanish superstar Rafael Nadal admitted Friday he was “a little bit more scared than usual” after a fresh injury headache clouded his build-up to the Australian Open.
Nadal, a 22-time Grand Slam title winner, needed a medical time-out towards the end of his quarter-final loss at the Brisbane International, his first tournament for almost a year.
Nadal required treatment at 1-4 down in the third set of his match against Australian Jordan Thompson after feeling pain in his upper left thigh.
Thompson won the match 5-7, 7-6 (8/6), 6-3 in a marathon of 3hr 25min.
Nadal squandered three match points in the second set before his latest injury woe cast a shadow over his plans for the Australian Open which gets underway in Melbourne on January 14.
Nadal said he had played pain-free during his opening two rounds this week, but conceded he had been in pain towards the end of the quarter-final.
He said that while the pain was in a similar place to last year’s injury, the injury itself felt different.
“It is a very similar place to what happened last year, but different, no?” the 37-year-old said.
“I feel it’s more muscle. Last year it was tendon. For sure it is not the same like last year at all because when it happened last year, I felt something drastic immediately.
“Today I didn’t feel anything. The only problem is because the place is the same, you are a little bit more scared than usual.
“I hope to have the chance to be practising next week and to play Melbourne,” he added.
“Honestly, I am not 100 percent sure of anything now.”
Nadal, who took most of 2023 off after suffering an injury at last year’s Australian Open, underwent surgery on his left hip during his time away from the tour.
The former world number one has also seen his ranking slip to 672 while rival Novak Djokovic has passed him in the Grand Slam title race with 24 to his name.
Nadal stressed he did not come into the Brisbane tournament expecting to win, and hinted that even the Australian Open was too soon for him.
“In an ideal world, it is just the muscle supercharged after a few days of effort and a very tough match,” Nadal said, adding that he had been very cautious when talking about his comeback.
“That is why I’m talking all the time that my goal is to try to be competitive in a few months.”
Later Friday, Nadal, the 2009 and 2022 Australian Open champion, said he would undergo tests on his injury in the coming days.
“This is part of the process that I am going through. I had a small sensation, not a good one, in a similar place where I had the surgery, but it’s too early to say anything,” he wrote on Instagram.
“Hopefully it’s a charged muscle and in the next days I’ll make some more tests. If it’s only a charged muscle it’s been a very positive week.”
He ended his message with “#brisbanetennis next Melbourne”.