World No.2 Rafael Nadal has shifted his attention to being fit for the Australian Open after pulling out of the Brisbane International with a thigh strain.
The 32-year-old Spaniard will nurse the “dangerous” injury he picked up playing in Abu Dhabi at the end of last year until he lines up next week in the FAST4 Showdown in Sydney next week.
“I still wanted to play,” Nadal told reporters on Wednesday.
“But all the recommendations from the doctors … (were if) I play here, there is a risk, important risk to don’t have the chance to play Melbourne.
Nadal's last 13 hard court events:
Brisbane 18: Withdrew
Aus Open: Retired
Indian Wells: Withdrew
US Open: Retired
ATP Finals: Withdrew
Brisbane 19: Withdrew
— Stuart Fraser (@stu_fraser) January 2, 2019
“I can’t do my 100 per cent. It’s a very small thing, but can become a big thing.”
At almost exactly the same time, three-time major champion and former world No.1 Andy Murray hit a snag in his comeback, falling in straight sets to Daniil Medvedev.
The young Russian controlled the second-round meeting, winning 7-5 6-2 to set up a quarterfinal showdown with Milos Raonic.
“If you’re not serving as well, or if you’re not moving as well, the better players exploit that. He is a top player and is able to do that,” Murray said.
“So I need to try and find a way of working out how to get around some of the things I struggle with a little bit now, and I’ll try to do that.”
— #BrisbaneTennis (@BrisbaneTennis) January 2, 2019
Nadal, a 17-time Grand Slam champion, was due to play his opening Brisbane clash on Thursday – his first ATP tournament match since pulling out of the US Open semifinals in September with an ongoing knee complaint.
He lost to South African Kevin Anderson in his only match at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition last week, withdrawing from the event after the defeat.
Nadal was limited to nine tournaments last year due to a string of ailments and his preparation for the Australian summer was disrupted by ankle surgery in November.
As for the Australian Open, Nadal sees himself in a better position than 12 months ago when he entered the major on the back of just one match in almost three months due to more knee issues.
He was forced to retire in the fifth set of his quarter-final against Croat Marin Cilic with a leg injury.
“My hope is to win the Australian Open,” he said.
“And being honest, I feel myself playing well. I feel myself playing at a good level of tennis. I really believe that I will be 100 per cent ready for Melbourne.”
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