A back problem forced Rafael Nadal to miss his season debut in the ATP Cup. Pablo Carreno Busta replaced him in the first singles of Spain-Australia, taking home the point against Alex De Minaur. The Majorcan will not even take the field tomorrow against Stefanos Tsitsipas, a game that has been postponed compared to the original schedule on Thursday.
Italy-Spain, with great probability, will be a tasty semi-final. To understand, at this point, if Nadal will be guided by prudence by not forcing his hand for the rest of this ATP Cup. The downside, however, is that it could be useful to break the ice before the Australian Open.
Situation in evolution. The Melbourne Grand Slam is the one with which he has had less confidence in his extraordinary career. Only one success in 2009 and four finals lost, the last in 2019 against Novak Djokovic. If successful in the atypical 2021 edition, Nadal would move to the top of the Grand Slam (21) victories rankings by overtaking Roger Federer.
A statistical objective that does not seem to be the main fuel for his engine. “I don't know if the twenty-first will arrive - he admitted -, I can only continue to do what I have done in recent years: to fight every day to improve and to achieve the maximum result when I'm on the pitch.
The truth is that I've never been obsessed with Grand Slams."
Rafael Nadal gives fitness update
“I’m not in a terrible shape, but I’m not well enough to play,” Rafael Nadal told Vamos de Movistar.
“At the end of one of the practice sessions I felt it was getting stiff. I’m having daily treatment and trust things will improve in the next few days. I think I’m a bit better now, but I’m not yet ready to play a match at the highest intensity ’cause I’m not at my 100% and we need to see how things evolve day by day”.
He added: “The first objective right now is to try to recover as well as possible. I think I have had a good pre-season and I started this season with maximum enthusiasm, I trained well in Mallorca and Adelaide”.
Citing his own back problems post-retirement, former World No. 1 Jim Courier said that if the back is stiff and sore, a person should have a problem standing up and sitting down and since Nadal showed no such discomfort on the sidelines, he should be okay for the Australian Open.
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.