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The psoas does not give Nadal any respite and calls into question his presence at the Australian Open: “I am not 100% sure of anything”

It was going full steam ahead, even better than anyone could have expected. After a year off the circuit due to psoas tendon problems that only allowed him to play four matches in 2023, Rafa Nadal had back to the slopes in Brisbane as if it had never left. Dispatching his first two matches of the year with ease, reaching the penultimate round of a tournament for the first time he had done so in Wimbledon two years ago and giving the sensation of being at the same ultra-competitive point that has elevated him throughout his career.

A heroic Nadal dies on the shore against Thompson

Everything is important to me right now. Victories are important to me, but it is also important that this Friday I play again. For me, playing is great news,” he acknowledged, emphasizing the need to add games, in the run-up to their duel against Jordan Thompson, number 55 in the ranking. A priori, a more than affordable rival for a Nadal at a good level and who was happy to confirm that “I have not forgotten to play tennis.”

And it seemed that way until well into the second set, in which the Spaniard had up to three match points. But he couldn’t close the match, he gave up the second round in the tie-break and fatigue, increased exponentially by the incessant heat in Australiabegan to make an impact on the winner of 22 Grand Slams, who noticed that something was starting to go wrong in an area very close to the one that left him on the brink of retirement last year. A turning point in the match, from which Nadal dedicated himself to measuring his efforts, falling defeated in a duel that lasted three and a half hours (5-7, 7-6 (6) and 6-3).

“The problem is in a similar place, but it is not the same. If it had been the same, I would have felt it immediately. Last year it was the tendon and I feel this more at a muscular level. Right now, I have the very fatigued muscle. I have to see how I get up tomorrow, but I hope to be training next week in Melbourne. The problem is that it is in a similar area and that makes you worry a little more than normal,” said the Balearic tennis player, who next week will take over the 451st place in the ATP ranking after adding 50 points for his victories against Thiem and Kruber.

“I have not had a very good feeling in the part where I have had surgery, I hope it’s just overload“, added a disgruntled Nadal, who assured that “if it only stays at that, it will have been a very positive week, if not just that, not so much”: “In an ideal world, the best thing would be for the muscle to be super loaded after the effort of these three days and a game as tough as today. “That would be the best thing that could happen and the normal thing about this process after a year without playing.”

The look at the dirt season

Underlying his words is the feeling that, as has always happened throughout his career, Nadal feels ready to fight anyone if his body lets him. But in a return planned more in the medium term, with an eye on the Paris claywhere this year in addition to Roland Garros the Olympic Games tennis tournament will also be held, any precaution is insufficient.

Therefore, to their 37 yearsthe Balearic Islands consider the year, more than ever, match by match and day by daytrying to get away from the frustrations implicit in a return after so much time away from the slopes and without wanting to raise high expectations.

“I’ve been talking with a lot of caution because I know that after a year it is difficult for the organization to be playing tournaments at the highest level. When things get tough, you don’t know how your body is going to react. I need to be open. Nothing changed for me. The way I approach it hasn’t changed at all,” Nadal said after the setback against Thompson. “I need to accept everything as it comes. If things happen, if I have a problem there, a problem in the other part of the body, I need to accept it“, he summarized, aware of his limitations in returning to the highest level.

“The last month has been pretty good in terms of intensity, but it is not a long period of time. I mean, I hope it’s not a big deal and I hope I get a chance to practice next week and play in Melbourne. But honestly, now I’m not 100% sure of anything”.

2024-01-05 16:53:57
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