Nadal, Federer face late fitness fights for Shanghai

November 1st, 2008 - 3:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Rafael NadalParis, Nov 1 (DPA) Rafael Nadal is hoping for positive medical news in time for next weekend’s start of the Masters Cup in Shanghai after knee pain forced him to quit a quarter-final at the Paris Masters.The Spanish world number one Friday joined Roger Federer on the sidelines after the Swiss pulled out of the first match of his career, because of a back pain prior to facing James Blake.

The elite pair are now racing the clock to be fit for the eight-man season-ending event which begins a week from Monday. Two spots in the field will be decided by Sunday.

Nadal appears be the most concerned after he retired losing the first set 6-1 against Nikolay Davydenko.

“We’re going to have the tests,” Nadal said. “Hopefully I am going to be fine for Shanghai, but you never know.”

Federer withdrew from the Beijing Olympic re-match with Blake in what he called a “precaution”.

“I hope I’ll be fit again for Shanghai,” said the defending champion in China. “This is a precaution for Shanghai. I hope I’ll be okay in a couple of days.”

Both men are fighting deadlines, with an early flight to China part of the plan to acclimitise to the Asian time zone. Federer is due to leave Monday while Nadal Tuesday.

“I hope I can recover until then, otherwise I’ll postpone that,” said Federer. “I’m confident and I’m positive that it’s going to get better in the next few days.”

Federer said he felt his back stiffening all through the week, dealing with it through painkillers. “In the last few games of the Cilic match (Thursday), I just had to play and really try to keep the points short.

“I expected to get better overnight, which I always have. It was disappointing getting up this morning and feel this way.

“I can’t take a chance over a back, so I just want to play it safe.”

Nadal, whose awesome physical condition is one of the major pillars of his game, said he’s never had this kind of knee problem.

“I didn’t have the power in the right leg to play the backhand,” said the world number one. “When I push with the right leg all the time the knee wasn’t there. I feel a sharp, acute pain.”

As he has been saying all along, Nadal indicated that the 10-month-plus season is too much for top players.

“With this calendar it’s very difficult to play like this over the years. The ATP and everybody will have to think about these things as to what’s happening in the end of the season.

“The speed of the ball is increasing and it’s tougher for the body. For the last four years I was fine, hopefully I can continue like this.”

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