More than 23,000 concerned pair of eyes in the Arthur Ashe Stadium zoomed in on Rafael Nadal's stomach on Sunday as he lay flat on his back with his canary yellow shirt pulled up to his chest. With a white towel covering his face, there was no way to guess the pain or the torment Nadal was going through as it seemed his injury jinx had struck again during his US Open third-round match against childhood friend Nicolas Almagro.
While the Spaniard shielded himself from peering eyes, a tournament trainer went about his business by quickly spraying and taping Nadal's stomach during the three-minute medical time out the third seed is allowed to take. Job done, Nadal got back on the feet but over the next few minutes it became clear that this latest setback was one the six-time grand slam champion could have done without. After resuming the third set at 2-1 down, Nadal grimaced on several occasions as he poked the afflicted area between points but hung on to beat fellow Spaniard Almagro 7-5, 6-4, 6-4.
Match over, there was only one topic tennis followers wanted to discuss. Well, all tennis followers except Nadal. "I know everybody want to talk about the injury. I really don't want to talk about that. That's the thing," said the world No 3, who was sidelined during June and July with tendinitis in both knees. Not satisfied with the Spaniard's answer, he was prodded again for an explanation but politely replied: "I said I don't want to talk about injuries. Sorry. I am a little bit tired to talk about injuries.
"I am here to try my best every day. I won the match in three sets, so happy for that. I'm going to try my best next round. That's all." Tonight, Nadal faces Gael Monfils, the 18th seed, in the fourth round. Nadal has won four of the five meetings between the two players. * Reuters