A cloud of injuries hangs over Nadal ahead of Australian Open By Reuters

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By Nick Mulvenney MELBOURNE (Reuters) – World number two Rafa Nadal is still struggling with the back injury that ruled him out of this week’s ATP Cup, but hopes to improve somewhat ahead of his first-round match at the Open from Australia on Tuesday. The 20-time Grand Slam champion withdrew from Spain’s ATP Cup tie against Australia on Tuesday with a lower back problem and said later in the week that he was still far from the level required to play in the first Grand Slam. of the year. When asked about his physical condition, the 34-year-old told reporters on Sunday: “Not very well, obviously, otherwise he would have been playing in the ATP Cup,” adding that he had been “suffering” for 15 days. “I am doing my best to be prepared. That is the only thing I can say. Today, I still hope to continue improving and hope I am prepared for it. Nadal, who has suffered regular back injuries throughout his career, said he was not thinking of withdrawing from the first Grand Slam of the year. “I don’t think about not playing,” he added. “The thing is, in what condition am I going to start the tournament, right?” It‘s not serious, but the muscle is still tight, making it difficult to play with freedom of movement today. Hopefully the situation continues to improve. “We are doing everything. My physical therapist is here, the doctors here, everyone is helping me in every possible way.” Nadal said he sustained the injury during quarantine, but was not sure whether the 14 days of forced isolation at an Adelaide hotel had contributed to his problem. “I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t want to think about it. That’s what happened. I’m usually not a big fan of finding excuses or reasons for why this other thing is happening.” With Roger Federer deciding to skip the Australian Open this year while recovering from knee surgeries, the door is open for Nadal to come out of a draw with his great rival in 20 career Grand Slam titles. Nadal won the Australian Open only once, in 2009, but played the longest Grand Slam final in history against Novak Djokovic in 2012 at Melbourne Park and lost the 2014 title to Stan Wawrinka after injuring his back in warm-up. . The Spaniard is scheduled to kick off his campaign on Tuesday with a first-round match against Serbian Laslo Djere. “I hope I’m ready, that’s all,” he said. “I know that sometimes things change quickly. I will continue to be positive and continue to do whatever I can.”

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