Nadal's back injury ongoing Open concern

Shayne Hope
·1-min read

Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley has moved to assure fans Rafael Nadal's nagging back injury will not prevent the world No.2 from chasing a record 21st grand-slam title when the Australian Open begins on Monday.

Nadal, a major drawcard at Melbourne Park each year, cited a "stiff low back" as the reason behind his decision to withdraw from Spain's ATP Cup matches this week.

The 34-year-old was a spectator in the stands at John Cain Arena on Saturday as Spain took on Italy in their semi-final.

But Tiley, after confirming the Open draw on Friday, said he has no doubt Nadal will be fit to take on Serbia's Laslo Djere in the first round.

"I see Rafa every day, he hit for an hour and a half (on Friday)," Tiley said.

"Out of extra caution he chose not to play in the ATP Cup, even though Spain are in the semi-finals playing against Italy.

"I'm sure he'll show up and provide moral support for the team.

"He's out practising and he's indicated he'll be ready.

"He's protecting his opportunity to win a 21st grand slam."

Nadal has endured a string of near misses at the Australian Open, with his sole triumph at Melbourne Park coming way back in 2009.

The Spanish superstar has lost the Australian Open final four times and injuries have also cruelled his chances in other years.

Nadal tied Roger Federer's 20 grand-slam singles titles last year when he clinched his 13th French Open crown.