World number one Rafael Nadal said that he tried his best to finish his match against Stanislas Wawrinka at the Australian Open 2014 men’s final on Sunday rather than pull out of the event after feeling back troubles early in the second set.
“At the beginning of the second was the key moment that I felt it, during a serve in a bad movement, it was very stiff, very bad,” Nadal said. “This is not the moment to talk about that. It is the moment to congratulate Stan. He’s playing unbelievable. He really deserved to win that title. I am very happy for him.
“The last thing that I wanted to do was retire. No, I hate to do that, especially in a final. At the same time, it is tough to see yourself [in that situation]. During the whole year you are working for a moment like this, it arrives and you feel that you are not able to play at your best.
“I tried hard until the end, trying to finish the match as well as I could for the crowd, for the opponent, for myself. I tried everything until the last moment, but it was impossible to win this way. My opponent was too good. I am proud about my attitude today on court. When somebody’s giving everything every day on court, nobody can say anything. I go home with the [knowledge] that I did as much as I could.”
Nadal was the heavy favorite to win his 14th career Grand Slam title. It was coincidental that Pete Sampras, holder of 14 Grand Slams, was at the Rod Laver Arena to present the trophy to winner. It would have been a tie for the second in all time list behind Roger Federer’s 17.
“I’m obviously disappointed and very sad about what happened. But that’s life, that’s sport,” said Nadal. “I really had a lot of great moments in my career. This is a tough one. I just accept it and try to keep working hard for what’s coming.
“It’s true that I was not very lucky. It’s a tournament that I really had some troubles physically in my career and is something that is painful for me. But that’s part of life. That’s part of sport. It is not the end of the world. It’s just another tough moment.
“I feel very lucky that I was able to enjoy many more happy moments than tough moments. In the end, people remember the victories, they don’t remember the losses. For me, it is a tough one tonight because I felt that I was ready to compete well. But in a few weeks that’s going to pass.
“I feel very lucky to be able to work in something that I really love to do. Not everybody’s able to do that. I just had a bad day, tough day. But a lot of people in the world have a lot of very tough days. I am not this kind of person, so I feel very lucky.”