Rafael Nadal abruptly walked out of his post-match press conference at the Australian Open on Wednesday night after suffering a cramp.
After facing questions about his fitness and physical preparation following his shock quarter-final loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas, it was somewhat appropriate that Nadal grimaced in pain as his hamstring appeared to cramp up.
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Nadal quickly stood up from his chair and exited the podium, only to come back moments later and explain what had happened.
“It has been shown that I was not well prepared, that’s what happened," Nadal said jokingly.
"This is the reality. It has been shown that physically I have lacked a little more preparation."
Nadal joked that he didn't want to become a meme again after suffering a similar ailment during a press conference at the US Open in 2011.
On that occasion Nadal was forced to lie down on the floor in the press room after suffering a much more painful cramp than he experienced on Wednesday night.
“After so many jokes that there were in New York I decided to go out the door so that there were no more jokes," he said.
True comedy from a true champion...🤣
Nadal leaves his Spanish press conference with cramp
"He asked me if I was well prepared... I think the answer is obvious, clearly not ! 😅 I prefer to go out to avoid lying on the floor and becoming a meme like after what happened in NY" pic.twitter.com/32ypHK44KR
— Alex Sharp (@Sharpy_89) February 17, 2021
Nadal refuses to blame quarantine for loss
Tsitsipas became just the second player to beat Nadal after trailing by two sets at a grand slam, storming home to win 3-6, 2-6, 7-6, 6-4, 7-5.
Nadal will now have to wait for another chance to break the record of 20 grand slam titles he shares with Roger Federer, with only one of Nadal's haul coming from the Australian Open (2009).
There have been retirements, mid-match injuries, upsets and heartbreaking losses during his 16 trips to Melbourne, but the 34-year-old says that's just part of the game.
"It's difficult to know exactly why these kind of things happen," said Nadal, who had been bothered by a back injury in the lead-up to the tournament but said it was fine against Tsitsipas.
"The only thing that I can tell you is I always prepared the proper way to be ready for here."
He said while quarantining could be used as an excuse for weakening his body, he just accepted that it was part of the tournament.
"I never considered myself an unlucky person at all," he said.
Meanwhile, Nadal has called on the tennis world to "think a little bit bigger" about the sport in the time of COVID.
While Novak Djokovic said many players would rather sit out the season than do another quarantine like in Australia, Nadal plumped for a multi-faceted solution.
He conceded it would be tough for players to compete in bubbles during every event but believed a lot of people's livelihoods associated with the sport would suffer if the game stopped.
"We need to think a little bit bigger, no?," he said.
"Probably we need to find a way to protect the players with the rankings, to not force them to keep playing.
"We need to find solutions and we need to adapt to this very tough time that we are facing. Not only us; the world."
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