Rafael Nadal said he was “mentally broken” after dropping out of the Australian Open on Wednesday with a second-round defeat in which he struggled heavily with a hip injury. But the 36-year-old defending champion said he loved tennis and hopes to continue despite his latest injury disappointment. The Spanish grandmaster injured himself while stretching for a shot in the second set against American Mackenzie McDonald, and as he battled on, his movement was hampered and he lost 6-4, 6-4, 7-5.
Crashing in the second round was his first loss at a Grand Slam since 2016.
Top seed Nadal said he wasn’t sure if it was a muscle or joint problem with his hip, but it had been with him for “a few days.”
“Sometimes it’s frustrating, sometimes it’s hard to accept, sometimes you feel super tired of all this injury-related stuff,” said the 22-time Grand Slam winner.
“Now it’s a tough time. It’s a tough day and you have to accept that and move on. You know, in the end I can’t complain about my life at all.
“(I) just can’t say I’m not mentally destroyed right now because I’m going to lie. It’s hard for me. But let’s see, hopefully it’s nothing bad.”
The Spaniard’s storied career has often been plagued by physical frailties, with 2022 set to be another rollercoaster year.
After winning the Australian Open, he suffered a stress fracture of the ribs in March before needing daily pain-relieving injections in his left foot to give him a 14th French Open title in June.
Then his bid for a third Wimbledon crown was shattered by an abdominal injury.
When asked why he continued, Nadal replied: “It’s very simple: I love what I do. I love playing tennis. I know it’s not forever.
“I like to feel competitive. I like to fight for the things that I’ve been fighting for almost half my life or even more. And that’s it. It’s not that complicated to understand.”
But he also acknowledged that at his age it became increasingly difficult to deal not only with injuries but also with the recovery process and then get back fit to compete at the level he expects.
“The past seven months have been another difficult period,” he said.
“I don’t know what could happen in the future. But I have to avoid a long period outside (from the sport) again.
“Because if not, it’s hard.”
He added: “Let’s see how the injury is going and then see how I can follow the calendar.”
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