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Nadal to skip Australian Open due to fresh muscle injury

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MELBOURNE: Rafael Nadal will miss the Australian Open this month after the Spaniard suffered a small muscle tear during his comeback from a long injury layoff at the Brisbane International last week, the 22-time Grand Slam champion said on Sunday.

Nadal’s latest injury casts fresh doubts about the former world number one’s ability to compete at the elite level again after he previously said that he expects to finish his glittering but injury-plagued career in 2024.

He made his long-awaited return to competitive tennis in Brisbane after spending almost a year out on the sidelines with a hip flexor injury sustained during his second round defeat to Mackenzie McDonald in last year’s Australian Open.

The 37-year-old did not compete again last season after undergoing surgery in June and suffered an upper left leg issue during his defeat by Jordan Thompson in the quarter-finals of the tune-up event for the Jan. 14-28 Melbourne Park major.

“During my last match in Brisbane I had a small problem on a muscle that as you know made me worried,” Nadal said in a statement on X.

“Once I got to Melbourne I have had the chance to make an MRI and I have micro tear on a muscle, not in the same part where I had the injury and that’s good news.

“Right now I am not ready to compete at the maximum level of exigence in five sets matches. I’m flying back to Spain to see my doctor, get some treatment and rest.”

Nadal, who won the Australian Open in 2009 and 2022, said he had worked extremely hard to make his comeback during the year and stressed that despite the latest setback his goal was to be at his best in three months.

“We will miss you in Melbourne, Rafa,” the Australian Open said on its official X feed. “Sending all our love and best wishes for a speedy recovery. See you on the court soon.”

Nadal also said in an interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais recently that he was thinking about the French Open, where he has won 14 of his major titles.

“Within the sad news for me for not being able to play in front of the amazing Melbourne crowds, this isn’t very bad news and we all remain positive with the evolution for the season,” Nadal added.

“I really wanted to play here in Australia and I have had the chance to play a few matches that made me very happy and positive.”

Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2024


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