Rafael Nadal pulls out be­fore his first match

Costa Levante News - - INTERNATIONAL SPORT -

By Eleanor Crooks, P A Rafael Nadal cast doubt on his fit­ness for the Aus­tralian Open by pulling out of the Bris­bane In­ter­na­tional ahead of his first match.

The Spaniard opted not to play his sec­ond match at an ex­hi­bi­tion event in Abu Dhabi last week af­ter tweak­ing his thigh and is wor­ried about the risk of ex­ac­er­bat­ing the prob­lem.

Speak­ing at a press con­fer­ence, he said: "I did an MRI and it shows a small strain on my left thigh. I tried to play, I wanted to play, but rec­om­men­da­tions from the doc­tors (were oth­er­wise).

"I feel bet­ter than I did four days ago. It's a risk to dam­age my body for one month if I play here."

It con­tin­ues a trend for Nadal, who with­drew or re­tired mid­match dur­ing all but one of his hard­court tour­na­ments last sea­son.

His fi­nal match of 2018 turned out to be the US Open semi­fi­nal against Juan Mar­tin Del Potro, where he pulled the plug at the end of the sec­ond set be­cause of pain in his trou­ble­some knees.

Af­ter re­cov­er­ing from that, an ab­dom­i­nal in­jury side­lined him for the rest of the sea­son and he be­gan his pre­sea­son prepa­ra­tions late af­ter opt­ing to have an­kle surgery to clear up a per­sis­tent nig­gle.

This lat­est is­sue is a dispirit­ ing blow for the world num­ber two but he will hope sit­ting out this week will en­able him to be fully re­cov­ered for the year's first grand slam, which starts on Jan­uary 14.

Ja­panese lucky loser Taro Daniel takes Nadal's place and faces Jo­Wil­fried Tsonga in the sec­ond round.

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