Nadal: Murray will be a big loss
Rafa Nadal knew it was inevitable that sooner or later the Big Four would become the Big Three.
That Andy Murray is the first of the long-time leading four in men’s tennis to signal the end of his career is something Nadal has to keep in perspective.
The No 2-ranked Nadal enters the Australian Open starting today as a legitimate title contender along with No 1-ranked Novak Djokovic and No 3-ranked Roger Federer, both six-time champions at Melbourne Park. Nadal is 32. Djokovic turns 32 in May, a week or so after Murray. Federer is 37.
Five-time finalist Murray plans to start the tournament in Australia, but he has conceded it could be his last after 20 months of struggling to overcome a longtime injury. The severe pain from his surgically repaired right hip is restricting his movement and he has already flagged he’ll retire after Wimbledon – if he can keep playing that long.
Murray practiced at Melbourne Park at the weekend not long before Nadal appeared at a news conference to talk about his health after three months out of competitive tennis and his prospects at the Australian Open.
‘‘Yeah, of course is very bad news,’’ Nadal said of Murray’s tearful news conference last week. ‘‘Will be a very important loss for us, for the world of tennis, for the tour, for the fans, even for the rivals that he have been part of a great rivalry between the best players for a long time, and a great competitor.
‘‘But being honest, when somebody like him, that he achieved almost everything in his tennis career, is suffering like he’s doing for such a long time already . . . probably he does the right thing for his mental health.’’
Nadal has missed long periods