Rafael Nadal has appeared to warn Novak Djokovic over playing through the pain barrier at the Australian Open. Both Nadal and Djokovic have struggled with injury during the tournament in Melbourne. The Spaniard has a back problem and the Serbian an abdominal issue.
Nadal beat Fabio Fognini in straight sets on Monday to reach the quarter-final stage.
Following the match, the 34-year-old said his back is feeling better than it has throughout the tournament.
Nadal was also asked about how playing through injuries can have a negative effect in the months after a tournament.
“It depends what kind of injury you have,” Nadal said.
“You have something broken, I think you have a strain or your abdominal — for example, I did it in the past, and you make mistakes because it’s impossible to know exactly what’s going on when you are competing.
“For example, I remember in the US Open 2009 that I started the US Open with a strain, I think, here in the abdominal.
“I started with six millimeters or so of strain and I finished the tournament, I lost in that semi finals against [Juan Martin] Del Potro and I finished the tournament with 26 millimeters. Of course it wasn’t a smart decision.”
Nadal says he has learnt from his mistakes and if an injury is debilitating him too much, he will withdraw from a tournament.
“Well, it depends what you have later after the US Open,” he added.
“I feel that if I have to rest for one month or something, it was not a disaster for me.
“You need to find a balance, but of course at this point of my career, if there is a big chance to increase something very important, probably I will not play because for me the happiness is much more important than give me a chance to win, and at the same time, if you are bad, you will not win. That’s clear.
“If you really have physical problems, you will not win. If you have some pain and it’s not putting you in a situation that limits you, the movements, maybe you can find a way.
“But when you really, really have an injury, it’s impossible to win a tournament like this.”
Speaking on Sunday, Djokovic admitted he may have to take some time off after the Australian Open to get over the injury.
He said: “It will jeopardise, you know, depending on how I go here, it will jeopardise certain tournaments that are coming after the Australian Open that I was maybe thinking to play.
“So I’ll probably have to, you know, take a little bit more time than I was previously thinking and heal, recover, and then get back on the tour.”