Nalbandian injures back in practice, withdraws from Kooyong
By JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer
January 8, 2008
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- David Nalbandian injured his back practicing with Marat Safin at Melbourne Park on Wednesday and withdrew from the upcoming Kooyong tournament.
Nalbandian, a 26-year-old Argentine whose past two title wins came over No. 1 Roger Federer and No. 2 Rafael Nadal at the Masters Series events in Madrid and Paris in October, said he is doubtful to compete in next week's Australian Open.
Nalbandian said he would have medical scans later in the day to assess the injury.
"For sure I can't play. I can't even hit slowly with the ball," he said. "This best thing is to rest and get treatment. In two or three days, start hitting slowly again and see how it goes."
He said the pain came gradually in the middle of his back over an hour, but became so intense he could not do anything.
"I felt fit, great and ready to go. It was just bad luck today, warming up," he said. "It's bad luck."
Nalbandian said he would try hitting again on Saturday or Sunday before making a decision on whether to play in the Australian Open, the season's first Grand Slam which starts on Monday.
Nalbandian, who reached the 2002 Wimbledon final but has never been beyond the semifinals at another major, will be replaced in the eight-man invitational Kooyong field by Australian Bryden Klein.
"It would have been my first matches of the year, here, so it would have been good to get the feeling of the ball, the surface and everything," he said. "It's very disappointing but all I can do is wait and try and be ready for the Open with a good feeling by Monday."
He was the third high-profile player to withdraw from the Kooyong tournament, after Federer and Tommy Haas.
Federer, who usually uses this event to fine-tune for the Australian Open, pulled out Monday because of a stomach virus.