YIKES! During the first set against David Ferrer at 1-2, Rafael Nadal walked off the court to get treatment for an injury. Apparently a left hamstring injury according to several tennis media twitter feeds. (@AustralianOpen, @TennisReporters, @NeilHarmanTimes
As of this post, the score is 4-5 in the first set. Nadal was down one break and broke back to make it 4-5.
*Update – I managed to stay up and watch the entire match til the wee hours of the morning, but was too tired to blog about it. Final score, 4-6, 2-6, 3-6. Was truly heartbreaking to see Rafa try to play through the entire match. He obviously did not want to retire out of respect to Ferrer. Credit to Ferrer though, he played a unbelievable game against Rafa. David Ferrer came out swinging with an obvious strategy for Rafa. Aggressive, aggressive, aggressive tennis. I believe the 2nd game took roughly 16+ minutes for David to break Rafa. Despite Rafa’s injuries hampering his movement, he still made the match competitive. Seeing Rafa almost break into tears during the changeovers was really hard to stomach, and knowing he was only 3 matches away from completing the RafaSlam.
Big question now is when will Rafael Nadal return to tennis with a hamstring injury? His knee injury from last time took him out of the game for months.
Some ESPN highlights with Darren Cahill and Patrick McEnroe’s breakdown of the match if you didn’t get a chance to watch the match.
Rafael Nadal’s post match interview via AustralianOpen.com
Q. What can you tell us about the injury? What did David say to you at the end of the match?
RAFAEL NADAL: I can say nothing about the injury. Seriously, I would prefer don’t talk a lot about the injury.
Tonight, first of all, I don’t know nothing. Second thing, for respect to the winner and to a friend, I prefer to talk about the match. I think he played at a very high level. I just congratulate him and wish him all the best for the semifinal. I think he’s doing a fantastic tournament. If he keep playing like this, he going to have a good chances.
What David told me at the net is for me and that’s it.
Q. How emotional is it for you tonight?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yes, is a difficult day for me. I lost in quarterfinals another time. So I tried my best. I couldn’t do more. Tonight I think I played against a great player, a great opponent. Today I really can’t do more than what I did. So he played at a very high level, and I wasn’t able to compete against him tonight.
Q. It’s going to be difficult for us to write a piece without appreciating how well you could move. It seemed to us you couldn’t move as well as you would like to have been moving tonight. Is that a fair statement?
RAFAEL NADAL: You see the match?
RAFAEL NADAL: So you are ready to write everything. I don’t have to tell you about what I felt on the court because I tried my best all the time. But is obvious that I didn’t feel at my best. I had a problem during the match, in the very beginning. After that, the match was almost over. So that’s what I can say.
But you know what, for me is difficult come here and speak about. In Doha I wasn’t healthy. Today I have another problem. Seems like I always have problems when I lose, and I don’t want to have this image, no? I prefer don’t talk about that today. If you can respect that, will be a very nice thing for me. Thank you.
Q. What was the problem, though?
RAFAEL NADAL: You are listening me? I can’t tell you which problem I have. First thing, because I don’t know. That’s my answer.
Q. What you achieved in the last year was nothing short of amazing. Does this break your heart a little bit that it had to happen like this?
RAFAEL NADAL: The tennis career, you have higher moments and lower moments. I had almost all the time very, very happy moments and very nice moments in my career. That’s part of the sport. Last year I was very lucky. I was healthy most of the year. I was playing unbelievable during all the year.
This year I did I think all the right things to start the season playing really well. And, seriously, I was playing like this in the first exhibition in Abu Dhabi. After that starts the problem. Was a difficult month for me, no?
That’s part of the sport. Accept; keep working; try my best in the next tournament. That’s what I can do.
Last year I had a fantastic year. This year the year just start. Last year in the beginning I had problems, too, and finally was the best season of my career. I think is almost impossible to repeat that. But remain a lot, and remain a lot to have hopefully really good moments, and at the same time, too, really negative moments.
So this is one of bad ones, one of negative moments. That’s part of the sport. I think I am very, very lucky sportsman about what happened in my career. And I have to accept the fantastic moments that I had during a lot of years with the same calm that when I have problems. And if I am ready to accept both things with I think let’s say everything the same, I going to be able to come back and play my best tennis another time.
Q. How do you think David will get on in the semifinals?
RAFAEL NADAL: He’s playing fantastic. But I think he’s not the favorite. But if he keep playing like this, hopefully he can have a good chance to be in the final or win the tournament. I would love. Is a fantastic person. Is a close friend of mine. So I wish him all the best.
I think that Andy is playing very good, too, but David is playing at high level, no? If he’s able to keep playing like this, I think he gonna have a good chances. I hope that. I wish him all the very best.
Q. After what happened in Doha, coming here a little bit late…
RAFAEL NADAL: Coming late?
Q. You were ill in Doha and came to Melbourne a little bit late.
RAFAEL NADAL: I didn’t came late. You are wrong. I was here one week before the tournament. Is more than enough.
Q. The question is, with you being ill in Doha, then what happened after the Tomic match, did you feel that maybe this tournament wasn’t meant to be, wasn’t destiny to win?
RAFAEL NADAL: I tried my best in Doha. Was a difficult week for me. Here, seriously, before the match of today I started to feel that I am playing much better and I am very healthy and don’t have no problem in general. So I was happy about happened during the first week because I was through without being perfect.
I started the second week with a very good match against Cilic and improving my level every day. Seriously, I was practicing much better than in the beginning of the tournament, and I felt ready to play this quarterfinals. But wasn’t the day.
Q. What will be your next tournament?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know yet. I have to think a little bit about everything and we will see what’s going on in the next weeks.
Q. We appreciate your fair play, and we understand what you’re saying. I just would like to know if you didn’t have in front of you a friend of yours, would you have kept till the last ball and point to stay on court or would you have left a little before?
RAFAEL NADAL: I hate the retirements, so this wasn’t the day. I did last year. I hate that moment. I didn’t want to repeat that.
Q. The match against Cilic showed you were recovering well. Did you feel anything unusual the last couple days?
RAFAEL NADAL: I felt fantastic the last couple days. I practiced very good yesterday. I had a fantastic warmup today before the match. Only feeling that I can say was very positive. I started the second week, and when the second week started, everything was better and better for me: the health, sweat, the level of tennis. Everything was better and better.
Q. Earlier today Andy Murray said there’s a number of guys on tour who on any given day can beat each other: yourself, Robin, Roger…
RAFAEL NADAL: I didn’t understand.
Q. He said any one of the top six or seven players on any day can beat each other. Do you think after the year you had last year, our expectations of you are probably higher than yours, given the evenness of the top six or seven players?
RAFAEL NADAL: For me there are much more than six or seven on the tour that can beat everybody. I think is more than these few. In general, the expectations, I don’t know which expectations you have about me. I have my ones. I have my goals. Probably we think different ways, no?
I live day to day with myself. You see everything from outside. I know how difficult is everything. Probably, you know, not exactly the same. This part is difficult, no? This part is very competitive. You have to have be in perfect conditions to win. The season is always crazy, very long. You can’t have time to rest and come back to prepare perfect in a season. That’s this game. Only the best players, only the more prepared players physically and mentally are ready to be here and to be in the top positions a long time.
My expectations, I said before the tournament, I said before the year start, is enjoy every day and practice hard every day with same illusion, humble and motivation that I did all my career. So that’s my principal goal, in general, no?
I lost in quarterfinals today. We’ll see what’s happen in next tournament. I’ll work hard to be ready.
Q. Can you tell us your feelings tonight compared to this time last year?
RAFAEL NADAL: Is different because last year was the knees. I had a problem, big problem, in the knee in the past. So was hard for me to have another time the same. I didn’t see a solution in that. Is not the case.
I came last year after probably six, seven months really hard for me of injuries and of problems in general. So was a hard situation. This year everything is a little bit different. I have three more Grand Slams at home, a few more Masters 1000s and a few more tournaments.
I can say nothing wrong because I had a fantastic time last year. Not possible be all the time at hundred percent. Not possible all the time to have all the positive factors together to win in every tournament.
Last year happened in almost every one. This year we start with a little bit of unlucky. I gonna work hard to come back and to keep having chances and to compete against the best players and to keep being in the top positions of the ranking, so…
I love playing tennis. I love the competition. And I love, in general, the hard moments because you are ready to change the situation working hard, working every day with a goal and with illusion.
Q. You said your preparation was good for this year. Was the vacation long enough after London?
RAFAEL NADAL: The vacation long enough? No, one day is enough, you think? Never is enough. With this sport you never have vacations enough. This part is special for different things. This factor is one of the special things that makes the tour hard and difficult. Only the best players mentally prepared are ready to be here long time.
I said before, wasn’t a problem of holidays, the start of the season. The only problem was a little bit of unlucky. In general, I had a virus. When you have a virus, your body goes down and you have more risk of everything. That’s probably what happened. That’s the simple thing.
Now we have to accept. I said 100 times. But the only thing I can say is, accept the situation and work to try to have another very good season.
Q. How did the fireworks display disrupt your rhythm?
RAFAEL NADAL: Nothing, nothing, no.
David Ferrer’s post match presser:
Q. Given the good form you’re in, how disappointing was it that Rafa had a problem?
DAVID FERRER: Well, it was not easy, no? Maybe Rafa he has a physic problem. But I did my game. I played very consistent all the three sets. So I was focused just in my game.
Q. You’re undefeated so far this year. What do you attribute that to? Why the good form?
DAVID FERRER: Well, yes, is unbelievable, no? 2011 I won all the matches. I’m very happy for that, no? I’m very happy with my game. I’m with very confidence. So I want to enjoy this moment, no, because is not easy.
Q. Do you feel some sympathy for Rafa because he was injured?
DAVID FERRER: Well, I cannot spoke with him because just gives a hand and I did my work after the match. I don’t speak with him.
I know about physic problem, but I don’t speak to him.
Q. Rafa said at the end you said something of a joke.
DAVID FERRER: After the match?
DAVID FERRER: No, no. In this moment, no.
Q. He said you something funny, actually.
DAVID FERRER: No, no.
Q. What did you say to him over the net in the end?
DAVID FERRER: No, no, no. He was lost. It’s impossible. When one player lost, I don’t want to joke, no?
Q. What did you say?
DAVID FERRER: What happened about him, his physic problem. Just this.
Q. The last time you played Andy Murray, which was in the Barclays ATP world finals, it was obviously a very one sided match. Do you think the circumstances will be very different this time?
DAVID FERRER: Well, I think every match is different. But I know about Andy. It will be a difficult match, no, because Andy is a top player.
But I am with confidence. I will try to do my best of me. But I need to play very consistent, very focused all the match, because Andy’s a top player.
Q. Sometimes it’s very hard to play someone who is injured. Talk about how you maintained your focus. Did you change your plan at all?
DAVID FERRER: No, I didn’t change my plan, no. I was just focused in my game because I was playing a good game. So I played the same tactic as like the first game in the end.
Q. When you came on court before he got injured, were you planning on changing your game at all?
DAVID FERRER: No. Always with Rafa I need to play very aggressive, no, because he’s a very good player. He defends unbelievable. For to beat him, just I need to play very aggressive and maybe I lucky like today.
Q. How do you think your game matches up against Andy Murray, the way he plays?
DAVID FERRER: Well, Andy’s different player like Rafa. But I need to play very, very focused, to receive really good because Andy, he has a very good first serve. It’s very important for me return very good in the match.
Q. Do you think he’s improved a lot over the last year?
DAVID FERRER: Yes. Andy Murray, Roger and Rafael, they are very improving every year the game of them. For me, these four players, it’s the best players in this moments.
Q. Would you say you’re playing the best tennis of your career at the moment?
DAVID FERRER: Well, maybe in 2007 I did my best tournament in Shanghai. Now it’s a very good moment with my life. But maybe in 2007 it was unbelievable, no, because when I won four matches to top players, it’s more difficult.
Q. This will be your second Grand Slam semifinal. It will Murray’s fifth. Is that experience important?
DAVID FERRER: No, because I am playing a lot of years to the Grand Slams and to the ATP, no? Of course, he has more experience than me. But now in this moment, I am 28 years. I am playing a lot of matches. I want to enjoy this moment, no?
The next match against Andy, it’s another match in my career. Just I need to will fight a lot, like every match of my life.
Q. Do you talk to Andy Murray much off the court?
DAVID FERRER: No, no, no. I spoke with him. I say congratulations for the match, but nothing special. He was focused in the previous match.
Q. You played 84 matches last year, which was the most on tour. Do you ever get tired?
DAVID FERRER: In the last year I played a lot of matches, of course. But it’s very important for me, no? My game is very physic. I need to play a lot of matches for my confidence.
Now I am in a good moment of my physic. I am not tired, because I stop two weeks to enjoy my holidays. So I am in perfect condition.
Q. Rafa obviously was trying to win his fourth Grand Slam in a row. Is there part of you that feels very sad or disappointed for him?
DAVID FERRER: No. I think he can to win the next four Grand Slams, no? Rafael is the best three players of the history of tennis. He is a young player. He will can do it.