Nalbandian injures back, in doubt for Australian Open
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- David Nalbandian injured his back hitting with Marat Safin at Melbourne Park on Wednesday and is a doubtful starter for next week's Australian Open.
Nalbandian, a 26-year-old Argentine whose last two title wins came over No. 1-ranked Roger Federer and No. 2-ranked Rafael Nadal at the Masters Series events in Madrid and Paris in October, said he would have medical scans later Wednesday to assess the damage.
"For sure I can't play. I can't even hit slowly with the ball," he said. "The best thing is to rest and get treatment. In two or three days, start hitting slowly again and see how it goes."
He said the pain came gradually in the middle of his back over an hour but became so intense he could not do anything.
"I felt fit, great and ready to go. It was just bad luck today, warming up," he said. "It's bad luck."
Nalbandian said he would try hitting again on Saturday or Sunday before making a decision on whether to play in the Australian Open, the season's first Grand Slam which starts on Monday.
Nalbandian, who reached the 2002 Wimbledon final but has never been beyond the semis at another major, will be replaced in the eight-man invitational Kooyong field by young Australian Brydan Klein.
"It would have been my first matches of the year, here, so it would have been good to get the feeling of the ball, the surface and everything," he said. "It's very disappointing but all I can do is wait and try and be ready for the Open with a good feeling by Monday."
He was the third high-profile player to withdraw from the Kooyong tournament, following Federer and Tommy Haas.
Federer, who uses this event usually to fine tune for the Australian Open, pulled out Monday because of a stomach virus.