MELBOURNE, Australia – Spain’s Rafael Nadal said on Saturday he was feeling healthy and approaching full fitness ahead of next week’s Australian Open, after a fellow tennis player, Britain’s Andy Murray, announced plans to retire due to injury.
Nadal, who won the Melbourne tournament in 2009 and has been dogged by injury problems for much of his own career, was forced to retire from last year’s quarterfinal against Marin Cilic.
“If I was not feeling good, I would not be here,” the world number two said at a press conference in Melbourne.
Nadal, who pulled out of the Brisbane International due to a thigh strain last week, said he was recovering well from foot surgery, and that while he had struggled for fitness and had had setbacks, he was confident of being able to perform in the first Grand Slam tournament of the season, which starts on Monday.
“It’s nothing new for me,” the 17-time Grand Slam winner said. “I just accept the challenges the body and the tennis present.”
He was speaking one day after his friend Andy Murray tearfully announced that he feared he would be forced to retire this season due to his struggles with injury.
Nadal paid tribute to the Scot, calling him a “great competitor” who had been part of some of the greatest tennis rivalries of all time.
“He will be a big loss for us, for the tour, for the fans,” the Spaniard said.
Second seed Nadal faces local James Duckworth in the first round of the Australian Open on Monday.