Tennis ace Rafael Nadal admitted he was “mentally destroyed” and fearing another long injury absence after suffering a shock defeat in the second round of the Australian Open today.
The defending champion and 22-time Grand Slam winner reported he had been hampered by severe hip pain during the 6-4 6-3 7-5 loss to American Mackenzie McDonald.
“[I] just can’t say that I am not destroyed mentally at this time, because I will be lying,” said Nadal, 36.
“Hopefully, it is nothing too bad. In the end [there] have been three positive weeks in terms of practice.
“I really hope that it doesn’t put me out of the court for a long time. It’s not only the recovery. It’s all the amount of work that you need to put together to come back at a decent level.
“I went through this process too many times in my career, and I am ready to keep doing it. I think, but that’s not easy.”
Nadal’s later career has been plagued by injuries, which affected him at the last three Grand Slams.
He won the French Open despite needing injections in his foot but retired from Wimbledon with an abdominal problem and struggled to shake it off before the US Open.
But he hinted he was not ready to follow rival Roger Federer into retirement just yet, despite the prospect of more gruelling rehab work.
“It’s a very simple thing: I like what I do. I like playing tennis. I know it’s not forever,” Nadal added.
“I like to feel myself competitive. I like to fight for the things that I have been fighting for almost half of my life or even more. When you do things that you like to do, at the end of the day, it’s not a sacrifice.
“Sacrifice is when you are doing things that you don’t want to do. And that was not my case. But of course it’s tiring and frustrating to [spend] a lot of my tennis career on recovering process and trying to fight against all this stuff all the time.
“But I accept it quite well during all my tennis career, and I was able to manage it well. But of course [the] last seven months have been, again, another tough period of time. I don’t know what can happen in the future.”