Rafael Nadal's Aussie Open defense came to an abrupt end today when the Matador was forced to retire from his quarterfinal match against Andy Murray with a knee injury trailing 6-3 7-6(2) 3-0. The Brit baller, who has reached his first semifinal in Oz, will now face Marin Cilic for a spot in the final.
The 6-time Grand Slammer was already down 2 sets in this high quality match when he called the trainer to examine his knee with the score at 0-2 in the third. He returned to the court, lost the next game and called it quits.
Rafa discussed the injury in his post-match presser:
Q. Could you let us know what the condition is, what the latest story is with the knee. It's very unusual for you to stop during a match.
RAFAEL NADAL: Yes, well, is not a lot of history because was during the match. Was in the end of the second set in one drop. And I feeled similar thing to what I had last year.
And, yes, after that I can't go down after that, no? So was impossible to win the match. When I have the chance to play, I never retired. Anyway, like I know I going to lose like I did in Rotterdam like last year. I say sorry to Andy for that.
I felt pain still there without no one minimum chance to do nothing, the same time is hard for me be five more games there without try nothing, no? So I don't know if I still playing can go worst or something. So I said, well, no repeat the same mistake like I had last year. I go to the limit, but not cross the limit, no?
Q. Is it the same sort of injury?
RAFAEL NADAL: I say before yes.
Q. Does it feel worse or the same?
RAFAEL NADAL: Worst?
Q. Does it feel as bad as it did last year?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know, no? Is happen few minutes ago, no?
Q. It happened the end of the second set?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yes.
Q. Are there any changes you're going to make to your training style or your playing style?
RAFAEL NADAL: Don't start, guys, with these questions right now. I think is not the right moment. I think I changed the style to play. If you see my matches 2005 or 2004, 2006, I run a lot compared to now, no?
So today I played against one of the best players of the world, and I think I wasn't run more than him. So I played aggressive. I played having the control of the point, a lot of the time with the forehand and the backhand, too, returning aggressive. If you see my matches three years ago, that's didn't happen, no?
Remember, we are playing on hard courts. Probably in this surface I have to play my best tennis, like today, if I really want to have chances to win. If not, then the opponents, there are really good players, and Andy's unbelievable. He's playing really well. You know, with these matches, I think I was very close today. But just little bit more calm when I had the break.
Rafa must be extremely disappointed with having to retire with a recurrence of the knee injury and not defend his title. It must have been pretty serious if he decided not to go on in a quarterfinal match at a Grand Slam. However, he seemed to be very conscious of not pushing the injury too far after last year's issues so let's hope he prevented any long term damage.