Nadal’s Madrid de­but de­layed by ear in­fec­tion

New Straits Times - - Sport -

MADRID: Rafael Nadal’s de­but at the Madrid Open has been pushed back a day be­cause of an ear in­fec­tion.

Or­gan­is­ers said on Mon­day that Nadal will play his open­ing match to­day be­cause of the ail­ment that has been both­er­ing him since Fri­day.

The four-time cham­pion said he has had trou­ble sleep­ing be­cause of the pain, but was cleared to keep play­ing. Nadal said the in­fec­tion was “noth­ing im­por­tant” but was a “lit­tle bit painful.”

“I’m still prac­tic­ing,” he said. “It re­ally both­ers a lot be­cause (it) is pain all around and on the head. Some­times you get dizzy a lit­tle bit with that. I think it’s bet­ter to start a day later, to start on Wed­nes­day.”

Nadal, who had a bye in the first round, will play his sec­ond-round match against Fabio Fognini, who has three ca­reer wins over the Spa­niard, in­clud­ing one in the 2015 US Open.

The fifth-ranked Nadal has won two con­sec­u­tive ti­tles on clay, the Monte Carlo Masters and the Barcelona Open. His last ti­tle in Madrid was in 2014.

“Right now I feel fine,” he said. “I’m very happy be­cause of the start of the year, not only be­cause of the start of the clay sea­son. I think in gen­eral it’s been some very good months.”

Nadal made it to three fi­nals this year be­fore fi­nally win­ning in Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He twice lost to Roger Fed­erer, in Mi­ami and in the Aus­tralian Open, and also lost to Sam Quer­rey in Aca­pulco.

“I needed to win a ti­tle af­ter play­ing a few fi­nals. I’m very happy for hav­ing achieved that,” Nadal said. “I think what I have achieved in Monte Carlo and Barcelona is some­thing great.

“It’s some­thing very dif­fi­cult to do. But we are in an­other very im­por­tant event here and we have to leave that in the past.”

Nadal, who didn’t play much last year be­cause of a wrist in­jury, has won 10 con­sec­u­tive matches and 21 of his last 22 sets.

Next month he will try to win a 10th French Open ti­tle. The last of his 14 Grand Slams was three years ago at Roland Gar­ros.

“I think that I’m in a good place,” he said. “I’ve been train­ing and com­pet­ing well for a cou­ple of months, which is al­ways im­por­tant. You are al­ways con­fi­dent when you are in a good place.” AP

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