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Rafael Nadal withdrawal sparks Australian Open concerns as Roger Federer promises to return next month

Rafael Nadal withdrawal sparks Australian Open concerns as Roger Federer promises to return next month
World no. 2 Rafael Nadal has sparked concerns about his readiness for the season-opening Grand Slam after he pulled out of a match in Spain's ATP Cup tie against Australia.

The legendary Spaniard, who is eyeing his record-breaking 21st major title, was set to face Alex de Minaur at Melbourne Park on Tuesday, but withdrew from the match due to a stiff lower back.

Hi all, we have decided with Team Spain and my team to not play today [in] the first match of the ATP Cup here in Melbourne since I have a stiff lower back,” Nadal wrote on Twitter.

Hopefully I’ll be better for Thursday. We have a strong team.

He was replaced by Roberto Bautista Agut, who went 6-0 at last year’s ATP Cup without losing a set, while World No. 16 Pablo Carreno Busta will play against John Millman in the second singles match.

Last year, Spain advanced to the final of the inaugural ATP Cup where they were beaten by Serbia 1-2.

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Nadal’s announcement made his huge army of fans worry about his state of health with less than a week left before the start of the 2021 Australian Open.

The Spaniard played an exhibition match in Adelaide on Friday, defeating Austrian tennis star Dominic Thiem 7-5 6-4.

While Nadal fans were concerned by their idol’s absence in the ATP Cup match, Roger Federer supporters were hugely inspired by the news of his highly anticipated return to the court.

On Tuesday, the Swiss tennis icon confirmed that he will take part in the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha next month.

The 20-time major champion, who is still recovering from a serious knee injury, hasn’t played a competitive match since losing to Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals of last year’s Australian Open.

I want to celebrate great victories again. And for that I am ready to go the long, hard road,” Federer said.

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