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No pain, no gain; Rafael Nadal’s Grand Slam dream burns bright

Rafael Nadal says he is injury-free but hasn’t played without pain for years, yet is hopeful of chasing Grand Slam titles.

tennis Updated: Jan 15, 2017 21:15 IST
Rafael Nadal,Australian Open,Carlos Moya
Rafael Nadal won the last of his 14 Grand Slam titles in 2014 as he has grappled with injuries, particularly a wrist condition. However, the No 7 seed says he is still determined to win Majors.(AFP)

Rafael Nadal revealed his battle against chronic pain on Sunday but said he was hopeful of keeping his Grand Slam career alive as he launches his partnership with new coach Carlos Moya.

Injury-hit Nadal, 30, said he hadn’t played without pain for years but remained optimistic of challenging for big titles again.

When asked if he was free of pain and injuries, the Spaniard, who has won 14 Grand Slam titles, smiled ruefully: “I am not injured, no. Pain-free is a long time ago.”

Nadal hasn’t reached a Grand Slam semi-final since 2014, but after lengthy discussion with long-time coach, his uncle Toni Nadal, he hired Spanish compatriot Moya in December.

“I am not a person who takes decisions like this,” Nadal said, clicking his fingers. “I need to talk. More than anything, you know, my uncle is my coach.

“He is a person that is decisive in my career, so I need to talk with him before taking any of these decisions. I will never take a decision like this if Toni is not happy with it.”

He added: “He’s (Moya) a person that I practiced with during almost all my career since I was 15 until he retired... It’s not a big deal, no? He is close to my house. He lives in Mallorca, too.”

Nadal, the current world No 9, plays Germany’s Florian Mayer in the first round on Tuesday and is seeded to meet top-rated teenager Alexander Zverev in the third round.

Last year, Nadal lost in the first round at Melbourne Park to compatriot Fernando Verdasco. But he said he wouldn’t be playing if he didn’t think he had a chance of lifting the trophy.

“If I don’t believe I can be competitive -- and when I say competitive, it’s fighting for the things that I fought for during the last 10 years -- I will be probably playing golf or fishing at home,” he said.

“I am being honest about this. If I am here it’s because I believe... I can fight for the things that really motivate me.”

First Published: Jan 15, 2017 21:15 IST