Melbourne—World number two Rafael Nadal pulled out of Spain’s opening ATP Cup tie against Australia Tuesday, complaining of a stiff lower back.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion was due to take the court against Australia’s top-ranked player Alex De Minaur, but opted to rest instead as he prepares for the Australian Open next week.
“Hi all, we have decided with Team Spain and my team, to not play today the first match of the ATP Cup here in Melbourne since I have a stiff low back,” he tweeted.
Nadal added that he hoped to have recovered by Thursday, when Spain meet Greece.
Spanish number two Roberto Bautista Agut will now face de Minaur, while John Millman takes on Pablo Carreno Busta in the opening rubber.
Nadal, who is aiming for a record-breaking 21st Slam title in Melbourne, moving him past the injured Roger Federer, played an exhibition in Adelaide on Friday, beating Dominic Thiem 7-5, 6-4.
Andreescu withdraws from Aussie Open warm-up
Meanwhile, former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu’s much-anticipated return from a year-plus injury lay-off has been delayed after she withdrew from her Australian Open warm-up event on Tuesday.
The world number eight, however, remains on track to end her 15-month absence from the circuit at the Australian Open starting on February 8.
Andreescu, 20, was set to make her comeback as top seed in the Grampians Trophy at Melbourne Park starting Wednesday, but pulled out as a precautionary measure after spending 14 days in hard lockdown upon arriving in Australia.
“Following the last two weeks in quarantine, it feels so good to finally be back on the court,” she said in a statement.
“After discussing it with my team, we have decided to focus this week on training for the Australian Open and miss the Grampians.”
The Canadian has not played a competitive match since suffering a left knee injury at the WTA Finals in October 2019, halting her rapid rise after a stunning straight-sets victory over Serena Williams in the final at Flushing Meadows that year. AFP
World number 12 Belinda Bencic is now the highest-ranked player in the Grampians Trophy, a tournament for players who were in hard lockdown and unable to train after Covid-19 cases were detected on the charter planes that brought them to Australia.