IT HAS been a “long time” since Rafa Nadal was painfree, the Spaniard says, but at least he will be competing at full speed at the Australian Open after putting his injury woes behind him.The 30-yearold, whose bustling power game propelled him to 14 Grand Slam titles, including one at Melbourne Park in 2009, has been blighted by injury since 2012 and in the last two years he has looked a shadow of the player he once was.
He has not advanced to a Grand Slam quarter-final since Roland Garros in 2015 and last year was dumped out of the Australian Open in the first round by compatriot Fernando Verdasco. A wrist injury forced him to pull out of last year’s French Open before his third round match,ending his pursuit of an record-extending 10th title.
He also had to miss Wimbledon. “I am not injured, no,” Nadal told reporters on Sunday when asked about his condition ahead of his first round clash with Germany’s Florian Mayer.“Pain free is along time ago,”headded with a smile.
“Being honest and being realistic, after Roland Garros, the only tournament I played with okay conditions, not 100 percent conditions, was the US Open. Because (the) Olympics, even if was a great event, I still had a lot of pain on the wrist. Was so difficult to play.
“I am here. I am enjoying. During the last seven months,I playedjust a couple ofmatches. That’s the real thing