Rafael Nadal: I Started To Feel The Back Injury During Warm-up, But This Was Stan’s Day, He Deserved It

by Tom Gainey | January 26th, 2014, 7:18 am

Fighting a back injury, it was a tough night for Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final. The 13-time champion was seeking to become the first player in the Open Era to win two career Grand Slams but his bid fell short to Stanislas Wawrinka who stunned the Spaniard 63 62 36 63.

Nadal, who had won all 11 matches this year struggled with a back injury that really hindered his play after he aggravated in the third game of the second set.

Nadal, who’s had a knee and leg injuries before in Australia, met the press afterward:

Q. Obviously a very difficult occasion for you emotionally. Did your back go when you played that forehand in the first game of the second set when you doubled over?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. The back, since the beginning I felt a little bit, from the warmup. It was a little bit worst in the first set. End of the first set, I start to feel worst.

Then at the beginning of the second was the key moment that I felt, during a serve in a bad movement, is very stiff, very bad.

That’s not the real moment to talk about that. Is the moment to congratulate Stan. He’s playing unbelievable. He really deserve to win that title. I very happy for him. He’s a great, great guy. He’s a good friend of mine. I am really happy for him.

So just congratulate him for everything. He had a great year last year and start the new year winning two titles is just amazing.

So congratulations.

Q. Much as it’s not easy to talk about, could you share with us what happened when you went off the court? Presumably to have treatment.
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, what I did?

Q. Yes.
RAFAEL NADAL: Just try to I don’t know. You can ask the physio, because in that moment I was too worried to think about what happened. The physio tried to relax a little bit the back. When that happen during a match is almost impossible. I tried hard.

Last thing that I wanted to do was retirement. No, I hate to do that, especially in a final. Same time, is tough to see yourself during the whole year you are working for a moment like this, and arrives the moment and you feel that you are not able to play at your best.

So was not an easy situation for me to be on court like this, but I tried hard until the end, trying to finish the match as good as I can for the crowd, for the opponent, for me. So that’s what I did: tried everything until the last moment, but was impossible to win this way. Opponent is too good.

Q. You said you felt it go in the warmup. Can you explain what you were thinking? Did you think it was going to get better throughout the match?
RAFAEL NADAL: I talked about that enough I think. Sorry for the answer, but I talked enough about that. Is not the moment, as I said after the first question. Is the third one after I say that. That is not the moment to talk a lot about the back.

Is the Stan day, not my day. As I say before, I try my best and was not possible for me today. I’m obviously disappointed and very sad about what happened. But that’s life, that’s sport. I really had a lot of great moments in my career. That’s a tough one. Just accept and trying to keep working hard for what’s coming.

Q. How did you feel about the crowd reaction when you came back onto court after the medical timeout?
RAFAEL NADAL: The crowd was great with me in the whole weeks, no?

Q. By the end they were shouting your name, cheering.
RAFAEL NADAL: Sometimes is tough for the crowd to understand. The crowd, only thing wants to do is enjoy great match. They paid ticket to watch the best match possible, and I was not able to offer that to them for moments.

I wanted to try my best until the end. But I can understand very well the reaction. They understand later that I was bad. I was trying all what I can try on the court with that situation. The crowd was great with me during both weeks. Support has been enormous, more than ever. I feel very, very proud about they treat, how the crowd is supporting me here.

You never will heard me talk badly about the crowd here.

Q. Did you sense that he was getting particularly nervous at the stage when you began to play with a bit more rhythm? He began to miss a lot.
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, is normal, no? When you see the opponent playing that way, you get nervous. You are playing for the first title. Is something that is completely normal.

I fighted. I tried to produce that opportunity, but was a lot to win a set. Talking about the set that I won, I saved two 15 40s, one 40 30. Was completely no real the chance that I was having, no?

Is true that you never know what’s going on if you are able to arrive to the 4 All or something like this. But win two more sets with that situation, you know, at the end you are playing against a top player, an opponent that will not miss.

The only way to win for me was mistakes from the opponent because I was serving too slow and too predictable. I was surviving because he was having mistakes on the return.

Q. Right up until tonight’s game, has your campaign over the past two weeks been as good of tennis as you’ve been playing in your career?

Q. Yes.
RAFAEL NADAL: No. I played a few good matches. I played a great match against Monfils. I played a great match in semifinals against Roger.

I didn’t play my best in Round of 16 and quarterfinals. You know, I played enough well to be in the final and enough well to arrive to the final with the right confidence to think that I will have my chance tonight.

I was happy the way that I arrived to that final. I was playing well in the right moments.

I cannot say nothing wrong about me neither. I am happy. I am proud about my attitude today on court, my attitude in both weeks. When somebody’s giving everything every day on court, nobody can say nothing, no? I cannot say to myself, If you will do something…

No, I try my best every day, every practice, practicing, playing with the right attitude, fighting for every ball the whole weeks. I think during whole my career, no?

I go home with the calm that I did as much as I can.

Q. You’ve had great victories here and won the championship. Last year you were out and in years past there have been physical problems, then again this year. Is that just a part of sport? Is it a coincidence?
RAFAEL NADAL: You know what, is true. Is true that I was not very lucky and this is a tournament that is painful for me. Is a tournament that I love so much. Is a tournament that I feel the conditions are good for me, warm conditions that I like, good crowd. Court, is true that is faster than the previous ones. Normally we play in normal speed conditions that I like to play.

So, yeah, is a tournament that I really had some troubles physically in my career and is something that is painful for me. But that’s part of life. That’s part of sport. Is not the end of the world. Is just another tough moment. Is not the first.

I feel very lucky that I was able to enjoy much more happy moments than tough moments. At the end is a sport of victories. People remember the victories, don’t remember the loses.

For me is a tough one tonight because I felt that I was ready to compete well. But in a few weeks that’s going to pass. I’m going to keep playing, going to keep training hard, Nd I’m going to keep enjoying the world of tennis.

Is great. I feel very lucky to be able to work in something that I really love to do. Not everybody’s able to do that. Nothing wrong. Just bad day, tough day.

But lot of people in the world have lot of very tough days. I am not this kind of person, so I feel very lucky.

Q. Despite your injury, were you impressed at how Stan came out and played, the game plan, serving and volleying?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah. He was playing amazing. Is very tough to stop him when he’s playing that way. So just congratulate him because he’s playing better and better and he’s playing with amazing confidence, hitting every ball very, very hard, moving himself great.

In a court like this one, the court goes quick, the bounces are a little bit lower and quicker than usual, is very difficult when somebody’s hitting every ball very hard and with that confidence to stop him. That’s it.

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59 Comments for Rafael Nadal: I Started To Feel The Back Injury During Warm-up, But This Was Stan’s Day, He Deserved It

Giles Says:

Classy as always.
Vamos Champ!
Stay Healthy!

Michael Says:

It appears that Rafa had this back problem right from the beginning and even during his training sessions which got worse only in the midst of the second set. It is quite unfortunate that this happened to him when he was all set to equal Sampras in slam count and also become the first player since Laver and Emerson to win all the majors atleast twice. I am not sure if he will get a better chance next year to go for this record. But, Rafa being the fighter that he is will never give up.

oromis Says:

Such a class act this Nadal!


Pitchaboy Says:

Give it up Rafa. When you are beaten, accept it and move on. Selective claim of injuries at crucial times maketh not a champion.

Giles Says:

^^^ Troll!

metan Says:

Why he didn’t back off from beginning?? Withdraw I meant!!! Does he get punish if he did that coz it is big game????

Michael Says:


May be, the back spasm might not have been so serious when he started but turned for the worse as the match went on especially in the midst of second set when he tried to make a volley.

Giles Says:

metan. Because Rafa is too classy a Champ to do that to Stan. If he was going to lose he wanted to do it graciously, which he did.

kriyuk Says:

Real champions win through injury, keep for themselves and change their game if needed. Nadal needs to learn more to understand this to become real champion

kriyuk Says:

He should know he cannot be 100%,then change his game to cover rather than just push it to the limit. It seems he wanted this injury for a reason. Very disappointing

Giles Says:

kriyuk. Are you sure you are talking about Nadal or some other loser on the tour??

Super Says:

Great attitude from Rafa. Gave Wawrinka credit, and did not want to make any excuses. He has a mindful perspective on life, and he is going to keep on fighting just like he always has.

Also props to Wawrinka for playing a great tournament, and winning some incredible matches. He has proven himself a real champion.

Brando Says:

WOW- what a class act Rafa is.

He feels the spasm in the warmup, you could see in his body language he was off color throughout the match and yet he continues on out off respect for all: Wawa, paying public, fans.

And then you see him conduct himself with dignity post match when he was suffering obvious heart break, and in the presser refusing to discredit Stan’s win or feel sorry himself.


My respect for you has increased after this loss as a Champion. More so than had you won. Your a credit to the sport but more so to your loved ones in how you are handling a tough time when self pity would be so easy a thing to feel.

Brando Says:

I won’t bother with names or respond to such posts but:

ANYONE who blames Rafa’s conduct or knocks him for how he’s handled himself with such obvious grace that many: Wawa, paying public, ex pros appreciate amongst many others and still dare call him:

Unsporting, unfair, cheat or whatever other rubbish:

They REALLY need to take a look at themselves and their OWN CONDUCT and ask:

Why am I kicking a man when he’s knocked down about class conduct when reasoned thinking has it that my own conduct has much to be desired?

Is he better- a guy who’s conduct is appreciated b y many- or am I: a bitter post who just wants to knock him after a loss?

andrea Says:

usually, when someone wins the match, tennis-x has their photo/story as the major headline as opposed to the runner up. c’mon guys.

amazing win for stan. haven’t seen any of the match, sounds like nadal at half speed. ironically, he never seems to be/get injured when he plays fed. :)


Tennis Fan Says:

Wawarinka was set to win this match … backspasms or not … actually getting a little peeved at Nadal’s leaving the court antics. Break a shoe lace … have to leave the court.

This win doesn’t have any astericks. Nadal was not going to win this match … back spasms or not!
… and I have the greatest respect for Nadal (usually)
Congrats to Wawarinka. He has the tools to be No. 1. Always has … just an issue between the ears.

skeezer Says:

Hasn’t Rafa lost at AO before with an injury excuse? Alot of talk about “me”, little talk of the Victor
Same ol same ol.
Congrats WaWa, Ya mon! A path few can conquer; Nole and Rafa. Stan 2014 AO Champion. Hold that trophy high!
Slice Tennis,
“Rafa passing Fed’s 17 is inevitable.”
Hahahahahalolololol. ROFL.

Daniel Says:


That thought crossed my mind. Why never against Fed?!;-)

malher Says:

I dont believe this sudden so-called back injury – bad looser – like that bathroom brake at indian wells – too many times – farce!!!!!!

martin rivkin Says:

to have two 100 % fit players in semi finals and final against each other the grandslams best of five set matchs have to become best of three up to the semis where best of five kicks in.
its too physical now and cant expect men to play 7 best of five matchs over two weeks its crazy now and spoils the event when problems like bad backs come into play.

skeezer Says:

Rafa is now 0-1 in GS finals against Stan. H2H vamoshead logic, a myth in the making.

Giles Says:

^^^ 23-10 and counting. I think your idol needs a racquet twice the size of his existing one and at least 10 Dedberg’s in his team to beat the Great Nadal!

Giles Says:

When was the last time before this AO that Rafa took an MTO?

roy Says:

skeezer says:
”Hasn’t Rafa lost at AO before with an injury excuse? Alot of talk about “me”, little talk of the Victor
Same ol same ol.
Congrats WaWa, Ya mon! A path few can conquer; Nole and Rafa. Stan 2014 AO Champion. Hold that trophy high!”

Do you know anything about the men’s game?

Do you know that men don’t usually serve first serves at 140 km/h?
Can you work out that serving 40km/h+ slower than normal makes it impossible to win on the ATP circuit?

Do you honestly believe that a player would spin serves in slower than second serves for two sets, in a grand slam final, if he didn’t have a serious problem?

Do you honestly think a player wouldn’t run for balls metres in from the sidelines for two sets in a grand slam final, if he didn’t have a serious problem?

There are a lot of seriously idiotic people on this forum, but you truly are the most pathetic.

roy Says:

even in the fourth set, nadal could not serve at full speed, could not defend properly and was struggling on every service game.

he played out the match knowing he could never win, despite fluking the third set (lashing out at balls while stan imploded) … nadal played out the match to try and give stan something of a ‘proper’ victory because it was a slam final.

he was trying to do the right thing. it’s called honour in case people are unfamiliar with that.

Giles Says:

Classy Rafa. You make your fans very proud.
Vamos Champ!
Stay Healthy!
Come back to fight another day!

roy Says:

and to people to say stan would have won this anyway … nadal won a set lollypopping serves in and barely moving … and even in the fourth set, with nadal at about 70% power, stan only broke him once.

stan started well. but he red-lined the first set. his average shot speed was up 10km/h. it was a ridiculous 130 km/h.you cannot maintain that and have the balls go in in a five set match.

and he didn’t. by the looks of stan’s game after the second set, it’s clear he most likely would have been defeated by a fit nadal and probably comfortably.

Gordo Says:

You Rafa haters are simply being idiotic. Injuries occur and the media is going to focus on them. The man handled the questions with class and deserves to be praised for his conduct throughout the match and the post-match. Nadal is nothing short of a total class act.

And you Rafa apologists have to face the fact that in this final Rafa was unable to beat Wawrinka. It matters not that he was injured. In this game you need the tools AND the toolbox. The latter wasn’t working for Rafa last night. It happens. Live with it.

Congratulations Stan – I hope you are too drunk to read this now.

SG1 Says:

I think it’s crazy to imply that Rafa was faking something. Where’s the proof? He was hurt which can happen. It has happened in the finals of a slam before. Edberg vs. Lendl AO final, 1990. No one called Edberg out as a faker.

The interviewer asked him a question and he answered it. He also very graciously gave Stan all the credit for a big win. Stan already had the first set in hand when the injury got worse.

I’m really happy for Stan. He has been one of the tour’s very best players for the last 14 months or so. He deserved this win and all the accolades that come with it. I hope he can carry it through the rest of the year and play well at the other majors. He has such a complete and powerful game that I can’t imagine him not being a threat for a good while.

Tennis Fan Says:

Can’t wait for the next Nadal – Wawrinka matchup. Stan will prove this is a new reality. I’ve been waiting for Stan to breakthrough for a long time. He will do it again.

Dc Says:

For all the h2h lovers – In grand slam finals , nadal has a loosing h2h against wawarinka

madmax Says:

Very nice speech brando from Rafa.

It must have been so very emotional for him. It would be for anyone.

Kimberly Says:

Agree with Gordo post

Dc Says:

@roy- why stan lost one set : maybe Stan was injured too, but being a sportsman didn’t make any noise about it.
Making noise about injuries isn’t the mark of a sportsman – something Stan has learned very well from his Swiss compatriot

Dc Says:

@Do you know that men don’t usually serve first serves at 140 km/h?
Can you work out that serving 40km/h+ slower than normal makes it impossible to win on the ATP circuit?

Please go read some history and find out how did micheal Chang defeat Lendl to eventually win his first grand slam

tennisfansince 76 Says:

@Roy yes you are right. NADAL would have won for sure. It is so certain, in fact, that the Australian open officials should go find drunk happy Stan and take the trophy away and give it to Nadal under the little-known should have won/would have won clause.

Hippy Chic Says:

Im a dissapointed Rafa fan and theres no two ways about that,but lets not take anything away from Stan here whos a fantastic player and a very worthy winner,and its great to see another player getting in the mix and winning a GS,Stan played amazing tennis to beat Novak and Rafa back to back,its his day and his time to shine,hes a lovely guy so how could anyone not be happy for him,i hope he backs it up and doesnt do a Delpo whos the most frustrating player to route for,and seems to blow hot and cold in the GS,and seems to have gone backwards not forwards since winning the USO in 2009,will he ever win another GS well personally i wont be holding my breath anytime soon?

Dc Says:

Rafa and his injuries – has he ever lost fair and square?
Hardly can think of an occasion.

Hippy Chic Says:

Funny how fickle tennis is,but funny how fickle the fans tend to be,reading comments on the other thread LOL,because Rafa loses at the AO final hes a none factor now at RG,and also the USO,god talk about jumping the gun a bit.

sheila Says:

giles says federer needs twice the size of racquet hes playing with & at least 10 “dedbergs” to beat nadal. why is federer even being brought into this conversation. i am a total federer fan, but i have the utmost respect for nadal. everytime theres an issue, federer’s name seems to come into it. nadal has beaten the crap out of berdych, tsonga & many others, why not trash those players for being beneath nadals standards. federer & nadal are both great players & both will end their careers w/incredible records. once again, as a federer fan, in no way, do i believe nadal faked an injury. this was a very important match for nadal & if he was able to, he would have played at 100%, but obviously he was in gr8 pain.

jackob Says:


tennisfansince 76 Says:

@hippy chick. :) too true! As far as RG Nadal is the king of clay until someone proves otherwise.

Hippy Chic Says:

Tennisfansince 76 thankyou,sometimes people are really lacking in perspective.

Daniel Says:


Wawa broke Nadal serve twice in fourth set. He broke at 3-2 goingo up 4-2, was broken back 4-3 broke again for 5-3 and closed the match.
He was fine beating Nadal until 40-15 2-0 second set. He was leading 8-3 in games so far, beating a “fit” Nadal.
When Nadal showed problema it disrupted Stan, who oddily couldn’t take chances in slow serves, in fact he was missing more returns because he had to generate power. Read Nadal’s presser above and He addresses this issue as well when asked what must have being like for Stan te whole situation.
Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda. Stan was leading and could have won the way he was playing. Nadal could have return in the match and won it as well. We’ll never know.

Okiegal Says:

A poster on another thread said that in the third set that Stan was being merciful to Rafa after the MTO…not what I saw…..I saw a frustrated Stan who made a big issue of the MTO to the umpire and he got rather mad and he lost his focus in that set. Let me tell you, the organizers and the directors were scared to death that Rafa was gonna retire. But Rafa didn’t because of Stan, the crowd and himself. If anyone on this forum thinks he was faking…..ridiculous!! I can’t believe any knowledgeable tennis buff or a player could even think that. But lots of mean spirited people here, on both sides. My 10¢ (instead of 2, for a change) LOL

Congrats to Stan on his two great weeks!! He is looking good!

Vamos Rafa and good luck for the rest of the year!!

Ajet Says:

Nadal, You’re The Greatest Tennis Champion. HATS OFF!!!

Brando Says:

@Madmax and Ajet:

Thank you for your kind words. It’s heartening to see great, ardent fans of Rafa’s main rival but also positive inspiration Roger Federer, saying nice things about Rafa when clearly he and his fans are dejected about the manner of this loss- not the loss itself.

Kudos to you guys: you are classy and kind unlike the other who have taken the easy and sour option:

To kick a man when he’s clearly down.

Joe W Says:

I’m not impressed by Nadal’s playing hurt at all. He said the right things at the presser. It appears there’s a genuine friendship between he and Stan(unlike Media created faux Roger-Rafa friendship). He has a dubious past leaving the court when he is getting his ass kicked, which he was tonight injury or no injury and he was clearly not himself physically. So it’s no surprise that there!s skepticism.

Skeezer Says:

Hey roy toy, do you know anything about Tennis? Wawa dominated Rafa for 2 sets. During that time Rafa served fine and ran like a rabbit, hitting his FH and BH at will. Stan was just out hitting him AND out playing playing him. Did you watch the match or just read the “injury” comments and the score? It was obvious at that point (down 2 sets due to Stans beatdown of better strokes )Rafa was most likely going to lose the match, so the obvious happened. Getting a time violation warning to slow things down,.And its happened before when he is losing . Then….My back. . And Serve? He served fine until he knew he was going to lose.
You are dubious and unknowledgable at best in Tennis analysis. Anyone, anyone who watched the totality of this match saw a epic performance who made the worlds #1 look like a Journeyman Tennis player.

Just congratulate and move on!


malher Says:

nadalis biggest fake ever!!!!!!

malher Says:

skeezer- well said!!!!!

Okiegal Says:

Let’s not forget……first question to Rafa in his presser: “Did your back go when you hit forehand……He answered and went on to say not the time to talk about that, two more times they brought it up and was nice about it but said 3 times he didn’t want to answer because it was Stan’ s day. What’s he supposed to do?? He can’t even ho into a presser and say don’t ask me anything about injuries because he would be bringing it up first. Get over it people, he certainly didn’t hurt it on purpose. He was devastated. The tears were not for knowing he was gonna get beat, as some posters allude to but because of disappointment

Okiegal Says:


Stan lost the third set because he made a mountain out of a mole hill about the MTO…..wasn’t very smart IMO. I thought his rant was a little over the top. I have watched a lot of tennis and had never seen that before.

Okiegal Says:


Roy, Roy, Roy…….you know as much about tennis as anyone else on this forum, so don’t get down on yourself, which I know you won’t. LOL

VAMOS RAFA!!! Rafa’s motto should be what my mother taught me: “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never harm me”. This human being is so badgered by people that it’s beyond pathetic. Hang tough Rafa, you are an amazing athlete.

Bad Knee Rules Says:

I have watched a lot of tennis and had never seen that before.
Selective memory.

2010 World Tour finals, Nadal argued with the chair umpire, complaining that he was giving Novak too much time to fix a genuine issue with his contact lenses. Nadal was very agitated – he just wanted to finish Novak off.

Okiegal Says:

@bad knee

Didn’t get to see that because it probably wasn’t televised. I watch all of them now since they are live streamed. I did not say it had never happened I just have never seen a player get so agitated over MTO. I will look at it on you tube because I’m sure it’s there, every thing else is. Fair enough?? I have seen incidents where the opponent might talk to the umpire, just don’t remember where a player went on and on to the point of getting angry. But I will try to find it.

About my selective memory, that’s the same thing my hubby says……too funny, so may be I better work on that, especially since a rank stranger picked up on it!! LOL

Paul Crandall Says:

I can’t believe the resentment and bitterness of some of the people on this board towards one of the true statesmen of the sport. Rafa suffers a major injury two years ago and works his way back to #1. He thrashes Roger Federer while Federer had his A game… Do you really think he would feign an injury while down a set? Rafa has beaten many opponents in 5 sets… He was struggling the entire 1st set and was off.. It was obvious. The back was taking it’s toll in the first set and stiffened up at the beginning of the 2nd. It is that simple… Rafa will be back, but his 27 year old body has 10 million miles on it, and it will be a miracle if he catches Fed in grand slams… Congrats Rafa on being a true champion and real competitor.

Okiegal Says:

@Paul Crandall

I agree 100%, but you’re wasting energy on this subject, Rafa was faking…….yeah right. I can’t believe how this amazing tennis player is crucified regardless of what he does. I guess people are jealous of his accomplishments…..just saying. Great post!


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