MADRID // A leg injury could force Rafael Nadal to pull out of the next ATP tournament in Dubai, but the top-ranked Spaniard said that he should be back in time to play for Spain next month in the first round of the Davis Cup. Nadal received treatment on his right leg on Sunday in the final of the ABN Amro, which he lost to Andy Murray. Although many believed the injury to be linked with the right knee injury that forced him to miss last year's Davis Cup final, Nadal said otherwise.
"It's not the knee, so there's no worry about that," Nadal said. "I'm sure I will recover quickly. It's nothing similar to last year. It's a lot less worrisome, let's hope." Nadal said he would play for the defending champions Spain against Serbia in the Davis Cup from March 6-8 barring injury, but he could not confirm whether he would participate in the Dubai Tennis Championships, which start next Monday.
Angel Ruiz-Cotorro, the Spanish team doctor, said that Nadal had strained a ligament below the knee against Murray but that the injury was not severe and that he should recover quickly. "It's a result of a combination of things, from fatigue to the change of playing surface," Ruiz-Cotorro said. "There are few tennis players who don't go out onto the court without some kind of nag, or problem." Ruiz-Cotorro said that Nadal's off-season regime meant he was better prepared for this season then in the past when a lengthy calendar often left the world No 1, 22, battered at the end of the season.
"He's taken a longer break coming in. He's better prepared than ever," Ruiz-Cotorro said. Nadal became the first Spaniard to win the Australian Open, beating Roger Federer in a gripping final last month. Bjorn Bjorg is the only other player to have won six majors by his 22nd birthday, and Nadal can become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to complete a Grand Slam by sweeping all four majors in the same year.
"The season has started well, but it's a long year," said Nadal, who has also won four French Opens and one Wimbledon title. "It's still too early to evaluate anything." *AP