Nadal will 'play in pain' at Madrid Masters

Top seed Rafael Nadal will go easy on his tender left knee in training while vowing to take to the court for his matches at the €2,1-million Madrid Masters.

The top seed and one of the last remaining big draws at an event hit by injury pull-outs by Roger Federer, Andre Agassi, Lleyton Hewitt and holder Marat Safin admitted on Monday that he will be playing in pain.

The 19-year-old world number two said that a scan has diagnosed tendinitis, a problem that kept him out of Vienna last week to the anger of organisers.

“I thought my knee was getting better, but yesterday I started feeling pain,” said Nadal, who has withdrawn from doubles with Feliciano Lopez in order to conserve energy.

“I had an MRI and it showed severe tendinitis in one knee. But my will to play will be there no matter what happens.”

The Spaniard will begin play in the second round against Victor Hanescu, a winner over Czech Tomas Zib 6-1, 6-4.

Nadal plans to only go to the court for his matches, skipping training in hopes of healing.

“It’s not the best thing to keep my tennis level up, but it’s best for my knee.”

Of the nine Spaniards who began the week, two won and two lost on opening day.

Among those was 2002 French Open winner Albert Costa, who is now flirting with retirement.

The 30-year-old got off to the worst possible start, going out to South American qualifier Agustin Calleri 6-0, 7-5.

The disheartening result has left the father of two considering retirement after a dozen years in the sport.
He will take a month off after dropping to 13-17 during a season where he has played mainly—and poorly—on the clay where he made his name.

“It’s very difficult to be playing at the top level for so long. I’m 30 and I’ve been a professional for 12 years,” said the Spaniard, ranked 102nd.

“I’ll take a month off and then see if I recover the strength and motivation to carry on. If not, it won’t be worth it.”

Costa last won a match two months ago.

Lopez lost to Sebastien Grosjean of France -5, 4-6, 5-2.

Home success came in the form of Alberto Martin, who beat Jiri Novak 3-6, 7-6 (7-1), 6-4, and Fernando Verdasco, who out-duelled Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

Argentine Juan Chela put defeated Olympic champion Nicolas Massu 6-2, 6-3, while Vince Spadea, a winner last year over Nadal, lost to Austrian Juergen Melzer 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.

German Tommy Haas advanced into a second round against Dominik Hrbaty as he defeated Romania’s Andrei Pavel 7-6 (7-4), 6-2.—Sapa-DPA

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