Nadal says he is fit, ready for Australian Open
2 hours ago
CHENNAI, India (AFP) — World number two Rafael Nadal said on Sunday he is fit and ready for the Australian Open despite suffering an embarrassing defeat in the ATP Chennai Open final here.
Nadal was demolished by fourth-seeded Mikhail Youzhny 6-0, 6-1 in a disappointing 58-minute final, raising fears the feisty Spaniard may not be fit for the first Grand Slam event, in Melbourne from January 14.
The 21-year-old called for a trainer midway through the second set, but afterwards insisted he was not injured.
"I am fine, there is nothing wrong with me," Nadal told AFP. "I called the trainer because I was feeling a bit tired."
"I look forward to going to Melbourne and training hard for the Australian Open. It is a tournament which interests me a lot."
Nadal reached the quarter-final at the Open last year, but did not progress beyond the fourth round in two earlier appearances in Melbourne.
Nadal looked exhausted after his marathon semi-final against compatriot Carlos Moya on Saturday which lasted three hours and 54 minutes as all three sets went into tie-breaks.
It was the longest three-set match since 1993 when Andrei Cherkasov beat Andrea Gaudenzi in the quarter-finals of the Tel Aviv Open over the same duration.
Nadal admitted returning to the court less than 24 hours after the gruelling encounter against Moya was tough.
"I was a bit tired, but Mikhail played unbelievable tennis and deserved to win. He was the better player today."
"But I am not very worried. I think I played quite well in this tournament and am happy to have reached the final in the first one of the season."
"The good thing is I leave this tournament without any injury. It has been a good start to the year for me. I have had good practice."
On Sunday, Nadal failed to hold any of his three service games in the first set, which Youzhny won in just 24 minutes.
Youzhny then broke his rival twice -- in the fourth and sixth games of the second set -- before wrapping up the match on his own serve.
It was Youzhny's fourth win in seven matches on hard courts against Nadal and earned him 68,800 dollars and 35 ATP race points in the season-opener in this southern Indian city.
Nadal won 37,350 dollars and 24 points.
The Russian, who lost in the second round in his only other Chennai appearance in 2001, won his fourth ATP title in a morale-boosting result.
"This victory is a present from Rafael," said Youzhny.
"He could not move today, he could not play. Maybe he was tired after last night's match against Moya."
"I did not think it would be so easy. I thought he would come back strongly in the second set but once I broke him in the fourth game, I knew I only had to ensure I did not make mistakes."
"I improved with every match in this tournament and I hope I continue the same way at the Australian Open," said the Russian, who has never progressed beyond the fourth round in Melbourne.
Nadal lost in the semi-finals here last year to eventual champion Xavier Malisse of Belgium. The defeat on Sunday was only his seventh in 30 ATP finals.