ATP Cup tennis: Rafa Nadal out of Australia tie with back issue


World No. 2 Rafa Nadal said he pulled out of Spain`s opening ATP Cup tie in Melbourne on Tuesday with a lower back problem with less than a week left for the Australian Open. Nadal was due to play the second singles against Alex De Minaur in Spain’s tie against hosts Australia at the Rod Laver Arena but pulled out hours before his match. 

“Hi all, we have decided with #TeamSpain and my team, to not play today the first match of the @ATPCup here in #Melbourne since I have a stiff low back,” Nadal said on Twitter. “Hopefully I`ll be better for Thursday.” 

Spain, who lost in the final of the inaugural ATP Cup last year, will play Greece on Thursday and Nadal would hope he would be fit to play the tie and get some match practice before the February 8 to 21 Australian Open. 

A spokesman for Nadal, who tied Roger Federer’s 20 Grand Slam singles titles with his French Open victory last year, told news agency Reuters that the 34-year-old preferred ‘not to force too much’. 

Nadal was replaced by Pablo Carreno Busta for Tuesday’s singles match. The Spaniard was one of the top players who quarantined in Adelaide for 14 days after their arrival Down Under. 

At the end of his isolation, he defeated Dominic Thiem 7-5, 6-4 on Friday in a highly entertaining exhibition match between the men`s world number two and three at Adelaide`s Memorial Drive Tennis Club. 

Federer eyes ‘smaller tournament’ for comeback 

Roger Federer said he is hoping to make his comeback from double knee surgery in 2020 by competing at a smaller tournament after skipping the Australian Open. The 39-year-old, who is tied with Rafa Nadal on 20 Grand Slam titles, has not played a competitive match since losing to Novak Djokovic in the Melbourne Park semi-finals last January. 

Federer’s agent Tony Godsick said in December he was looking to build a playing calendar for the Swiss from late February onwards. Swiss broadcaster SRF reported Federer could return at the ATP 250 tournament in Doha from March 8-13, an event he has won three times. 

“I want to celebrate great victories again. And for that I`m ready to go the long, hard road,” Federer told SRF. 

“I’ve been thinking about when and where to come back for a long time. I wanted to make my comeback at a smaller tournament so that I wasn’t fully in focus and where the stress is also a little less.” 

Federer said he had continued to keep track of results on the ATP Tour as worked his way back to fitness. “I actually thought that I would not follow the sport very much and would be more busy with my children and my rehab,” Federer added. 

“I was surprised that I kept checking results and watching matches. And normally I don`t do that at all if I don`t take part in a tournament.” 

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