Rafael Nadal honest about Australian Open struggles despite clinching Cameron Norrie win

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Rusty Rafael Nadal admitted he is still struggling for form after knocking the last Brit out of the Australian Open singles on Saturday.

Pre-tournament favourite Novak Djokovic skipped practice today is a doubt for his clash with Milos Raonic tomorrow after tearing a muscle on his right side yesterday.

And world No.2 Nadal showed he still troubled by his lingering back injury as he suffered in silence against Cam Norrie in the empty Rod Laver Arena.

The Spaniard won his 16th consecutive match against a fellow left-hander 7-5 6-2 7-5 in pursuit of a male record 21st Grand Slam title.

But Eurosport analyst Jo Durie said: “He was not at his best. He is not as free-flowing as we usually see him.”

And Nadal admitted: “Of course it was a tough match. He came here after winning a couple of matches. I didn’t take the opportunities I had at the beginning of every set and the situation became a little bit more difficult.

Break points I didn’t convert them. I combined some very good games with a couple of unforced errors that I need to fix.

And when you are playing against the best players in the world, it is normal you are going to suffer a little bit. But it is normal. First matches in a long time.

I have had now three matches which I hope will help me for what is coming. I am happy now but of course I need to keep improving.

I am in the second week – that is the main thing for me now. I hope to be ready for Monday.”

Nadal started with an ace against the British No.3 and won the first six points. But Norrie, who had planned to get tactical tips off Andy Murray made the first break to lead 3-2 and briefly rattled the Spaniard.

But the 2009 champion increased his intensity to win the opening set in 48 minutes.

Norrie stayed in the match and forced a long third set – interrupted by a rain shower – before Nadal took his first match point when the Brit pulled a running backhand wide.

Nadal will now face Fabio Fognini in the fourth round after the fiery Italy beat Aussie No.1 Alex de Minaur 6-4 6-3 6-4.

Norrie was also the last Brit standing at the US Open last year when he also reached the third round.

No British player has reached the fourth round in the singles in the last four Grand Slams since Jo Konta reached the 2019 US Open quarter-finals.

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