Subdued Nadal struggles to prove fit for purpose
World No 3 looks out of sorts despite straight sets victory over compatriot
Rafael Nadal seems to have spent as much time on the physiotherapist's couch as he has on the tennis court in the last three months and the world No 3 was flat on his back again here yesterday. It was an abdominal injury rather than knee trouble this time, though it did not stop him progressing to the fourth round of the US Open. Nadal beat his fellow Spaniard, Nicolas Almagro, 7-5, 6-4, 6-4.
Nadal, who returned recently after a two-month absence with tendinitis in his knees that forced him to miss Wimbledon, called for the trainer in the third set and had treatment for an injury that first troubled him in Cincinnati last month.
He refused to discuss the problem after the match. "I don't want to talk about injuries," he said. "I'm sorry. I'm a little bit tired of talking about injuries. I'm here to try my best every day. I won the match in three sets, so I'm happy about that. I'm going to try my best in the next round. That's all."
Nadal's pleasure at reaching the last 16, in which he will meet the winner of last night's match between Gael Monfils and Jose Acasuso, was understandable, but whether he is in either the physical shape or the form to make much more progress is another matter. He looked vulnerable against Nicolas Kiefer and dropped his serve five times here against an opponent who rarely excels away from his favoured clay courts.
It was a curious match all round, with both men lying on the court in the third set as Almagro also had treatment on his back. There were a remarkable 13 breaks of serve. The pattern was established early on, with Nadal losing the first two games and winning the next three. The Australian Open champion failed to serve out for the set at 5-4, Almagro breaking on a double fault, but recovered to win the next two games.
More breaks of serve and more patchy passages of play followed in the next two sets. Nadal, who went into the tournament seeded to meet Andy Murray in the semi-finals, never looked in any real trouble but fell below the standards he had been setting earlier in the year.
Nadal was not the only seed in the bottom half of the draw in physical difficulties. Juan Martin del Potro called for a trainer to treat a problem in his right arm during his 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Daniel Koellerer, while Gilles Simon retired after the recurrence of a knee injury when two sets to one down against Juan Carlos Ferrero. Del Potro, who still managed to hit 20 aces, now meets Ferrero for the right to play the winner of yesterday's late-night match between Andy Murray and Taylor Dent.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who is the highest-ranked man not to drop a set in the first three rounds, progressed at the expense of his fellow Frenchman, Julien Benneteau, winning 7-6, 6-2, 6-4. The No 7 seed now plays Fernando Gonzalez, who beat Tomas Berdych 7-5, 6-4, 6-4.
Wow - what a weekend for British Motorcycle racing!
by Luke Wilkins
22 May 2013 05:00 AM
The dust is barely settling on the Premier League season and the bookies are looking to persuade us ...
by Gareth Purnell
22 May 2013 02:01 AM
The guard has changed at Old Trafford for the first time in 26 years. Meanwhile, down the road, the ...
by The Sports Lawyer
21 May 2013 10:01 PM
Gaël Clichy: Roberto Mancini must take share of blame for dismissal
Sergio Garcia apologises for 'fried chicken' remark aimed towards Tiger Woods
Exclusive: Championship clubs set to push for safe-standing trials
Phil Neville in frame for role at Stoke City
Andy Carroll stalls on £15m move to West Ham in hope Newcastle step in
- 1 'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Bloody attack brings terror to capital’s streets
- 2 Mothers' diets may harm IQs in two-thirds of babies
- 3 Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
- 4 After woman sells virginity for $780,000, here are the results of our prostitution survey
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.