Rafael Nadal Talks Back Injury, Didn't Consider Withdrawing from Australian Open

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 7, 2021

Spain's Rafael Nadal reacts during a practice session ahead of the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021.(AP Photo/Hamish Blair)
Hamish Blair/Associated Press

Rafael Nadal revealed Sunday that a nagging back injury is impacting him ahead of his first-round Australian Open match against Laslo Djere on Tuesday.

According to ESPN's D'Arcy Maine, Rafa had the following to say regarding the ailment: "It's true that for the last 15 days I have been suffering with the back. So here we are. I tried little bit today to serve again. Well, I'm doing everything what's 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."

Despite the injury preventing him from practicing at times, Nadal said he has not considered withdrawing from the Aussie Open.

The Spaniard added:

"The whole positive feelings that I had one week and a half ago, two weeks and a half 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 still am 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 is difficult to play with freedom of movements today.

"Let's hope [the] situation keeps improving. We are doing everything. My physio is here, the doctors here— everybody is helping me in all possible ways."

Nadal, who is the No. 2 seed in the Australian Open, is a 20-time Grand Slam champion, but only one of those titles came in the Aussie Open.

Rafa won the tournament back in 2009, and while he has reached four finals since then, he has been unable to add another Australian Open title to his resume.

Most recently, Nadal made it to the final in 2019, but he fell to Novak Djokovic in straight sets.

Nadal is not far removed from his latest Grand Slam title, though, as he won the French Open last year, marking his 13th career French Open victory.

As a result of the back injury, Nadal says he suffered during his first practice in Adelaide in preparation for the Australian Open. He did not play in last week's ATP Cup.

The 34-year-old may not be as prepared as many of the other players in the draw as a result, but he does have a fairly favorable path.

Rafa's first huge challenge may not come until the quarterfinals against either Stefanos Tsitsipas or Matteo Berrettini, followed by Daniil Medvedev in the semis and Djokovic in the final.

Nadal has a path to the finals, but if his back injury greatly hampers him on the court, he may be ripe for the picking for one of the young guns standing in his way.