REUTERS/David Gray via Daylife
Rafael Nadal retired with a right knee injury during his Australian Open quarterfinal match against Andy Murray on Tuesday. Murray was up two sets and a break when Nadal tapped out: 6-3 7-6(2) 3-0.
This time last year, Rafael Nadal was playing the most commanding tennis on tour. Then knee tendinitis flared up during his clay court campaign, making him beatable at the French and unable to defend his beloved Wimbledon title. Suddenly his tennis destiny was out of his hands – and up to his temperamental knees. And the horrible, sinking feeling behind this latest episode comes from the realization that those knees will rebel whenever they damn well please.
Despite his clearly upset expression (above), Rafael Nadal remained calm in his post-match press conference on Tuesday night. He said that he’s close to his best form and leaves the tournament satisfied with his play. A sliver of a silver lining. You can search for more good news in his comments, below:
Q. Could you let us know what the condition is, what the latest story is with the knee. It’s very unusual for you to stop during a match.
RAFAEL NADAL: Yes, well, is not a lot of history because was during the match. Was in the end of the second set in one drop. And I feeled similar thing to what I had last year.
And, yes, after that I can’t go down after that, no? So was impossible to win the match. When I have the chance to play, I never retired. Anyway, like I know I going to lose like I did in Rotterdam like last year. I say sorry to Andy for that.
I felt pain still there without no one minimum chance to do nothing, the same time is hard for me be five more games there without try nothing, no? So I don’t know if I still playing can go worst or something. So I said, well, no repeat the same mistake like I had last year. I go to the limit, but not cross the limit, no?
Q. Was that the most aggressive he’s played against you?
RAFAEL NADAL: Andy played really well I think. I think he’s at unbelievable level, no? That may be with how I did too. I think my level was very high today, too. I had big chances. I had big chances to win both sets. And I think against probably the player who is playing better right now, I was very close.
So I go out from this tournament very happy about my level because the perspective is much better right now than two or three months ago, no, when I lost in the Masters Cup. All the matches, in that matches, I didn’t see one no way to play again my tennis. Now I am playing another time at my best level. Today I think was amazing match first two sets. Both, I think we played really well. And I have the chances.
He served ‑‑ his serve was unbelievable with my chances, with the 30‑All, with the Love‑30, with the breakpoints. Just congratulate him because he’s doing really well, and I think he gonna has a big chance to win this tournament.
Q. Is it the same sort of injury?
RAFAEL NADAL: I say before yes.
Q. Does it feel worse or the same?
RAFAEL NADAL: Worst?
Q. Does it feel as bad as it did last year?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know, no? Is happen few minutes ago, no?
Q. It happened the end of the second set?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yes.
Q. You were talking about your level of play today. When do you think you last played as confidently and as well as you were doing for the first two sets?
RAFAEL NADAL: I think last time was here last year.
Q. Here last year?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah. Because after that I played well few matches in Indian Wells. But after that started the pain. And after the pain, I didn’t play bad, but far away from this level, no? I worked a lot at home. Lot of months working to play at this level now.
For sure for me is little bit disappointing have the pain on the knee because I think I am very close to start winning these important matches, no? And I think I gonna do soon.
Q. Are there any changes you’re going to make to your training style or your playing style?
RAFAEL NADAL: Don’t start, guys, with these questions right now. I think is not the right moment. I think I changed the style to play. If you see my matches 2005 or 2004, 2006, I run a lot compared to now, no?
So today I played against one of the best players of the world, and I think I wasn’t run more than him. So I played aggressive. I played having the control of the point, a lot of the time with the forehand and the backhand, too, returning aggressive. If you see my matches three years ago, that’s didn’t happen, no?
Remember, we are playing on hard courts. Probably in this surface I have to play my best tennis, like today, if I really want to have chances to win. If not, then the opponents, there are really good players, and Andy’s unbelievable. He’s playing really well. You know, with these matches, I think I was very close today. But just little bit more calm when I had the break.
Q. How confident can you be that your knee problems are going to suddenly stop?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I worked a lot. I didn’t have lot of problems for the last six months. And today is the first time, no? I felt something when I think is a bad movement. But is not, you know, because the knee is tired or has been a bad movement or gesture.
No, I think going to be okay.
Q. Are you worried how long your knee might keep you out?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, no.
Q. You don’t think it will keep you out for a long time?
RAFAEL NADAL: I repeat: I said before, I think is impossible to me to know after half an hour.
Like Rafa said, it’s impossible to know anything for sure right now*. Except that it stinks.
What are you thinking about this latest Nadal knee trauma?
*Per ESPN – Nadal’s camp said on Wednesday that they don’t think this latest injury is related to his knee tendinitis – Rafa will be traveling to Barcelona for a full evaluation.
Presser via AustralianOpen.com