Australian Open 2021: Rafael Nadal still struggling with back problem

Nadal pulled out of Spain's ATP Cup tie against Australia with a lower back problem and despite improvement, he said he was far away from acquiring match fitness.

Rafael Nadal pulled out of Spain's ATP Cup tie against Australia on Tuesday with a lower back problem.   -  AP

World number two Rafael Nadal on Thursday said doubts remain over his fitness ahead of next week's Australian Open.

Nadal pulled out of Spain's ATP Cup tie against Australia on Tuesday with a lower back problem and despite improvement, he said he was still far away from the level required to play at the year's first Grand Slam.

"It's not that I'm in a really bad way, but I'm also not alright in the sense that I can't play either," Nadal told Spanish television channel Movistar+.

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"I've improved a little but I'm not in a position where I can go and play a game at full intensity."

Nadal sits level with Roger Federer on 20 Grand Slam titles and with the Swiss not taking part in Melbourne after knee surgery, the Spaniard would have the chance to become the all-time major record holder in the men's game for the first time.

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He insisted, however, that was not something he was focused on. "First thing's first, and that's to play the Australian Open, and if that doesn't go well, the season goes on," he said.

"I've never been obsessed with Grand Slams, truth be told."

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