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Minor setback

Posted: 26 Jan 2011 09:40 PM PST

Injured Nadal aims for quick recovery

Thursday, January 27th, 2011 13:32:00

MELBOURNE: Rafael Nadal is looking to put behind him the despair of missing a cherished "Rafa Slam" and recover from his Australian Open injury setback to again rule men's tennis.

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal

The world No 1 was in tears late in his injury-ruined quarterfinal yesterday with Spanish friend David Ferrer as he realised his quest for a fourth straight non-calendar year Grand Slam victory was over.

Although he refused to dwell on the injury out of respect for Ferrer's unexpectedly easy 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 victory, he told Spanish reporters that he may have torn a muscle during the match.

Nadal sought a medical timeout after a fiercely-contested second game of the match when his serve was broken following a marathon 22 points.

When he reappeared on Rod Laver Arena his upper left thigh was bandaged and there were reports that he had a hamstring injury.

But Nadal gave away few details at his post-match news conference, out of deference for close friend Ferrer who now faces a semifinal with last year's runner-up Andy Murray tomorrow.

By a quirk of fate, Nadal also pulled out of last year's quarterfinal with Murray with knee trouble on the same Australia Day national holiday in his only other injury retirement at a Grand Slam.

Although the severity of his injury is not known, Nadal faced questions last year about his playing future when the knee tendinitis kept him off the tour until March.

He went on to string together the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open crowns and came to Melbourne looking to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to own all four Grand Slam titles at the same time.

An emotional Nadal was able to put a positive slant on his latest problem, after last year's astonishing run when he became the youngest player in the Open era at 24 to complete a career Grand Slam.

"Last year I had a fantastic year," Nadal said. "Last year in the beginning I had problems, too, and finally it was the best season of my career.

"I think is almost impossible to repeat that. I had really good moments and at the same time some really negative moments.

"So this is one of bad ones, one of the negative moments. That's part of the sport. I think I am a very lucky sportsman to have what has happened in my career.

"And I have to accept the fantastic moments that I've had during the years the same way as when I have problems.

"If I am ready to accept both the highs and lows as the same, then I am going to be able to come back and play my best tennis again."

Nadal has entered the Indian Wells tournament in California from March 7-20 along with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. But straight after his match Nadal said he was not sure when he would next appear on the ATP Tour.

"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," he said.

Nadal said he hated injury retirements and had sour memories of his Australia Day pull-out at last year's Australian Open.

"I hate the retirements. I did it here last year. I hate that moment. I didn't want to repeat that," he said.

RESULTS
This morning
SEMIFINAL

Li Na (CHN) bt Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) 3-6, 7-5, 6-3

Yesterday
QUARTERFINALS
Men

Andy Murray (GBR) bt Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR) 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (3-7), 6-3; David Ferrer (ESP) bt Rafael Nadal (ESP) 6-4, 6-2, 6-3
Women
Vera Zvonareva (RUS) bt Petra Kvitova (CZE) 6-2, 6-4; Kim Clijsters (BEL) bt Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 6-3, 7-6 (7-4)

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Tennis and tikka in Melbourne

Posted: 26 Jan 2011 09:36 PM PST

Thursday, January 27th, 2011 13:31:00

MELBOURNE: Since I arrived in Australia two weeks ago, my conversations have revolved around two main subjects. The first is tennis, which is not surprising since that is the reason why I am in Melbourne.

Colette Wong

YUMMY: The writer enjoying her char koay teow

We talk about the matches we've seen, the players we've interviewed and the people we met. It's the one thing that binds everybody at the Australian Open.

The other topic that consumes my thoughts is food. My crew in Melbourne consists of another Singaporean and two Malaysians, which explains why the subject of food is so close to our hearts — it's in our genetic makeup.

Decisions over what to eat were relatively simple during the first two days at Melbourne Park. Since there wasn't a lot of down time, it was convenient for us to eat lunch at the media restaurant. There's plenty on offer here such as a range of sandwiches, rolls and wraps.

But the hot food can get rather predictable — there's usually a chicken or beef dish, some kind of fish, along with pasta and salad. It is all rather delicious but after two days, we were ready to set off and experience the culinary delights Melbourne Park had to offer. I liked what I saw.

There were salads and noodles, hotdogs and pies, sushi and pasta. There was even a stall that sold laksa, pad thai and char kway teow to satisfy my Asian cravings.

Our interest in food was so overwhelming, we did a short story about the offerings at the Australian Open. We also discovered how much is consumed at Melbourne Park over the course of 14 days: 10,000 kgs of noodles, 79,000 sausages, 80,000 pieces of sushi, 100,000 sandwiches, 35 tonnes of chip.

While I've been keeping my tummy and taste buds properly satisfied, my other senses have also been tickled. The colours and sounds at Melbourne Park are typically Australian. You know when a local player is in action by the boisterous cheers that ring out. "Aussie Aussie Aussie! Oi Oi Oi!"

Australians love their sport but they also love to dress for the occasion, turning up with flags draped around their bodies, faces painted and wearing all sorts of accessories with their national flag on them. But turning oneself into a colourful supporter isn't confined to the youth.

I once saw a group of middle aged ladies decked out in dresses with the letters RF printed on them. Even their ear-rings and handbags were embossed with Roger Federer's initials. Australia's passion for sports is unbridled.

They live it and breathe it. Walking around Melbourne Park you see families, groups of teenagers, senior citizens, people from all walks of life, drawn together because of their love for the game. It is a sight to behold. Much like my lunch of chicken tikka was today.

Colette Wong is covering the Australian Open. Catch her on STAR Sports and online on ESPN Player for her exclusive player interviews.

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