World number 2 Rafael Nadal was once again nowhere to be seen on Friday at the ATP Cup in Melbourne. It is this time round a back injury threatening his hopes of a record-setting Grand Slam No. 21 title at this year’s Australian Open.
Nadal missed Spain’s opening standoff with Aus when on Tuesday he failed to show up to the party. He also proved a now-show on Tuesday when the official schedule was released for Friday’s clash against Greece, explaining after the fact that he had been unwell, and therefore not able to compete. According to the message relayed to Spanish broadcaster Vamos, while steadily improving, Nadal believed he wasn’t yet ready to play a match at maximum intensity. Nadal’s absence has been an ongoing concern for fans, and especially so since he’s not competed professionally since the Nov. 21 ATP finals in London.
The sweetheart of the tennis world did however have an extra day during which to recover and regain his strength following the postponement of all warm-up matches after a positive test result was recorded at a tournament hotel in Melbourne.
With the Australian Open due to get underway on Monday Feb. 8, it will be up to Nadal to hold his own if he’s to fulfil his career-long dream of trumping rival and friend Roger Federer’s 20-Grand-Slams world record.
Federer has announced that he won’t be competing in this year’s AO due to his recovery process from two separate knee surgeries.
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