DOHA, Qatar, January 7 – Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer shrugged off their Qatar Open semi-final setbacks and confidently talked up their chances at the Australian Open, the season’s first Grand Slam tournament.
Nadal, the world number two, slumped to a 6-3, 6-4 loss to France’s Gael Monfils on Friday, while Federer did not even make it on to the courts in Doha, withdrawing from his scheduled clash with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga with a bad back.
French Open champion Nadal, the 2009 winner of the Australian Open, insisted he was happy with his form in the Gulf.
“I am not lying to you, and my feeling is very positive. I think I played a great tournament, much better than what I thought,” said the Spaniard.
“So seriously, the only negative thing of today is to lose. For the rest of the things, I am satisfied.
“I played more aggressive than usual during all the tournament. In general, I am doing the things that I have to do to compete against the best players of the world and to try to win at important tournaments.
“Maybe I may not win in Australia, but I have to keep working like this and I’m in the right way to win in the future.”
Having played two matches in pain, Grand Slam record-holder Federer preferred to give himself the best chance of appearing in decent shape for the Australian Open, which starts at Melbourne in nine days’ time.
“Although it’s not very good, it’s not crazy bad,” Federer said.
“I have had bad backs in the past, but this is not very good, otherwise I would definitely be playing.
“It’s only the second time I have pulled out from a tournament, and I have never pulled out during a match. It’s a sad moment for me, the tournament, and the fans, but health comes first.”
Federer was “optimistic” he would be fit for the Australian Open, where he will be trying to win the title back from Novak Djokovic.
“I feel that without play and with the right treatment, I will get through it in the next few days,” he said.