Rafael Nadal admits back injury may halt his Australian Open dream
Rafael Nadal’s bid for a record 21st Grand Slam title is in doubt due to a back injury.
The Spaniard remains determined to start this year’s Australian Open against Serbia’s Laslo Djere in the first round on Tuesday.
But the 34-year-old, who was forced to withdraw from Spain’s ATP Cup matches this week, is still struggling with the issue in his lower back.
Nadal, who equalled Roger Federer’s haul of 20 major titles at the French Open last year, said: “Well, I don’t feel great obviously because if not I would be playing at the ATP Cup.
“It’s true that for the last 15 days I have been suffering with the back. So here we are.
“I tried a little bit today to serve again. Well, I’m doing everything possible to be ready for it. That’s the only thing that I can say. Today I am still hoping to keep improving and hope to be ready for it.
“I think about that we are on Sunday. I have tomorrow and then play Tuesday, no? No, I don’t think about not playing.
“The thing is about in which condition I’m going to start the tournament. I have been practicing great, I think, for lot of weeks, and I’m disappointed about what happened the last couple of weeks, of course.
“The whole positive feelings that I had one, two weeks ago, now disappeared a little bit, of course, because I was not able to practice the right way the last week and a half.
“At the same time I’m still having not the best feeling possible on the back. But I am practicing again.
“I did a lot of things to recover. It’s not serious, but the muscle is still tight, so it’s difficult to play with freedom of movement today.
“Let’s hope the situation keeps improving. I hope to be ready, that’s all. I know sometimes things change quick. I’m going to keep staying positive and keep doing everything I can.
“Let’s see. I can’t say more today because it’s not an important injury but it’s a thing that stays here for a lot of days. Of course, it worries me a little bit.”
World number one and tournament favourite Novak Djokovic has no such problems as he begins his bid for a ninth title against France’s Jeremy Chardy.
“I have been feeling more comfortable each year that I’ve been coming back,” he said. “The more you win, obviously, the more confidence you have. It just feels right.”
However, Djokovic did reignite his feud with Australian bad-boy Nick Kyrgios, who criticised the Serbian for making a list of requests for players who were stuck in quarantine.
“My respect goes to him for the tennis he’s playing,” added Djokovic.
“I think he’s very talented guy. He’s got a big game. He has proven that he has a quality to beat any player really in the world in the past.
“Off the court, I don’t have much respect for him, to be honest.”
Emma Raducanu announces new sponsorship deal as she reveals how decision to become brand ambassador was influenced
Dior the latest to link up with Emma Raducanu.
The famous Wimbledon queues will return in 2022 as All England Club reveals changes to the schedule
Covid restrictions meant all tickets for the 2021 tournament were sold online.
Novak Djokovic gives update on his 2021 schedule as he also reveals when he will return to training
Novak Djokovic gives update on 2021 schedule.
Incredible footage of US Open champ Emma Raducanu playing Indian Wells winner Paula Badosa
Emma Raducanu took on Paula Badosa at a Futures tournament in Bolton two years ago.
Cameron Norrie inspired by Emma Raducanu’s US Open win, but says it’s ’50-50′ about which story is more believable
Emma Raducanu “inspired me a little bit, that was crazy”, says Cameron Norrie.
Andy Murray backs Kim Clijsters to win at highest level again with Scot impressed by her ball-striking
“I’m sure she can still win matches at the highest level.”
Novak Djokovic reveals ‘I still don’t know if I will’ play in Australian Open as he vows to stay mum over vaccine status
Questions over Djokovic’s participation in Aus Open.
Unvaccinated tennis players warned they are unlikely to receive visas for the 2022 Australian Open
Victoria has a vaccination mandate for professional athletes.
ATP Rankings: Roger Federer out of the top 10, Cameron Norrie into top 20, Andy Murray plunges
This week’s ATP Rankings update.
Cameron Norrie ‘a great example for not just British players but all tennis players’, says Andy Murray
Cameron Norrie has climbed to 15th in the ATP Rankings after winning the BNP Paribas Open.