After playing with Dominic Thiem in Adelaide last week, Rafael Nadal missed the opening match of the ATP Cup group stage between his Spain and Australia. A back pain would be the cause of the forfeit of the 20-time Grand Slam champion, who in 2020 equaled the record of eternal rival Roger Federer.
In the last few hours, the news has come that the former world number 1 will not even take part in the 'tie' with Greece, scheduled for Friday after the positivity that emerged in the hotel hosting the players. Fans of the 34-year-old Majorcan have expressed their concern about the physical state of their favorite, given that the Australian Open 2021 is now just a few days away.
The first seasonal Grand Slam has been postponed to February to allow all tennis players to perform the two weeks of mandatory quarantine. In the event of a second triumph at Melbourne Park, Rafa would definitely detach Federer in the all-time standings.
Speaking on the Tennis Channel, former ATP number 1 Jim Courier tried to shed some light on the condition of the Iberian veteran. According to the American, Nadal's resignation is a precautionary move in view of the Happy Slam.
Courier on Rafael Nadal
Describing Rafael Nadal’s movement on the sidelines during Spain’s opening group stage clash in Melbourne, Jim Courier said, “He was in the team zone, he was getting up and out of his seat and looked fine”.
He added that the fact that Nadal pulled out of the opening group stage clash in Melbourne was more of a precautionary step to avoid the risk of an injury ahead of the marquee event. "I think it was more precaution than anything, that he didn’t play the first match and we’ll hope for the best,” Courier said.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, there are going to be fewer spectators at the Melbourn Slam. However, thanks to the sponsors, the event has not had to change its prize money pool, which remains at $71.5 Million. This was great news for the players, as a lot of them depend on prize money for their source of income.
Hopefully, all of them will do well in Melbourne. We will have to wait and see who bags the Au$2.7 million as the champion of the event. The major partner of the Melbourne Slam is Kia, a South Korean automotive manufacturer. They have been sponsoring the event since 2002, and the Australian Open is surely grateful for this. Officially, their partnership will end in 2023, but they will probably extend it as it has been very successful.