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article imageNadal backs booed Tomic over injury blow-up

By Robert Smith (AFP)     Jan 14, 2014 in World

Rafael Nadal offered words of support to Bernard Tomic Tuesday after the young Australian retired from their Australian Open first-round clash, drawing boos from a frustrated crowd.

The Spanish world number one won the opening set 6-4 before the Australian called it quits with a left groin injury to jeers from the capacity crowd at Rod Laver Arena.

Tomic looked to be in discomfort from the injury and sought courtside treatment throughout the first set before he called an end as soon as Nadal went ahead 6-4.

It was an anti-climax to the most anticipated match of round one, between the 13-time Grand Slam champion and the talented but undisciplined world number 57.

But Nadal was sympathetic about Tomic's plight and clapped the Australian as he left the court.

"I am very sorry for Bernard and I hope you get better very soon," Nadal said in a courtside interview.

"I know how tough this situation is as I had the same situation a few years ago here on this court, so all the best to him for the rest of the year.

Australia's Bernard Tomic (R) speaks to a trainer during his singles match against Spain's...
Australia's Bernard Tomic (R) speaks to a trainer during his singles match against Spain's Rafael Nadal on day two of the Australian Open in Melbourne on January 14, 2014
William West, AFP

"I saw from the beginning that he had some problems on the leg and he was serving unbelievable in the first couple of games... it is difficult to comment on a match like this."

Nadal, who retired in the 2010 quarter-finals and missed last year's Australian Open with knee trouble, will play another Australian, Thanasi Kokkinakis, in the next round.

Tomic, who reached last week's Sydney International final, said he injured himself during practice on Monday and felt the problem again as he was warming up.

"I thought, 'Oh, no. It's tough playing Rafa with two legs, let alone one,'" said the 21-year-old.

"Nothing I could do. I felt really good the last few weeks the way I was playing, very confident. I felt good on court today. You know, I was serving very good."

Nadal joins his main rivals Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray in the second round, as the only member of the 'Big Four' not to have hired a celebrity coach.

Djokovic is working with Boris Becker, Federer has hired Stefan Edberg and Murray has had a long association with Ivan Lendl, while Nadal remains with his uncle Toni.

"Well, I am thinking with (John) McEnroe for me now," joked Nadal, adding: "No, seriously for me, I believe in the continuation of the things, long-time work.

"So my team is the same since I started. I never fired anyone from my team in my career. That is something that I am proud of.

"I always believe that if you are playing well, if you are playing not that well, it's always your fault, not the fault of the coach."

But when asked how his uncle, without the knowledge and experience of the tennis elite, had coached him to such success, Nadal smiled: "My secret."

"Toni knows my tennis very well, knows my character very well. He knows what he has to say to me in the important moments, when I am under pressure, when I am scared, when I am confident," he said.

"Nobody knows better me than what my team knows me, because all my team knows me since a long time ago.

"So I feel very confident with them... I really would love to finish my career with the team I have today. I will fight for that."

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