Toni Nadal, Rafael's uncle and coach, in an interview with El Pais threw a thrust against his nephew's historic rival, the Serbian Novak Djokovic, guilty, according to the coach, of manifesting his physical problems too clearly.
The number 1 in the world in recent days had declared that he was even in doubt whether or not he would take the field for the round of 16 match of the Australian Open against Milos Raonic. “Who seems to have overcome even his physical problems is Novak Djokovic, who managed to qualify for the quarter-finals after defeating the Canadian Milos Raonic.
In the case of the Serbian, he is surprised that the annoyances come upon him so repeatedly, to the point of sowing doubts about his stay in the tournament, only to disappear overnight. I won't be the one to question the veracity of his pain, something very common in an elite athlete.
He probably hides them less than he should, normal practice on the pitch. More than once, a player loses to annoyances that he keeps to himself so they are not pitched as an excuse for defeat." Both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have injury clouds hanging over them during the Australian Open with the latter struggling since the ATP Cup while the former picked up his abdominal strain during his third-round win over Taylor Fritz.
Patrick Mouratoglou, 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams’ coach, explained why he is more concerned about Djokovic’s injury.
Mouratoglou on Nadal and Djokovic's injury
“I have more doubt for Novak Djokovic’s end of the tournament than for Rafael Nadal, who seems to be okay controlling the pain,” Patrick Mouratoglou told Tennismajors.com.
"In the case of Rafa, who has a back problem, and in the case of Novak, who has an abdominal problem, they know it’s an injury and they know it can get worse. “Rafa clearly tries to shorten the matches, (to) be more aggressive than usual, because he doesn’t want the matches to last too long.
He doesn’t want to have to make too many physical efforts moving and trying to retrieve balls. He prefers to be in control of the rally, because if he is in control of the rally, he is also in control of his body. You can feel that he isn’t going 100 percent and he’s trying to control what he’s doing, because he knows that if on one shot he goes too far and exaggerates the effort on the zone where he has the pain, then the injury can go to the next level and then maybe he will have to pull out.
Mentally, it’s an incredible effort to play tennis all while trying to control your motions and not activate the zone that is in pain. Novak will have to do the same. For Novak I think it’s worse because it’s the abdominals, and you use the abdominals on every shot”.