Rafael Nadal was overcome with pain after third-round victory at the US
Open, when he was overcome by pain from cramping in his right hamstring
and thigh, causing his aftermatch media conference to be cleared out.
Journalists were cleared out of the interview room while
the defending champion was given bags of ice to put on his leg and
water to drink.
After about 10 minutes Nadal told the anxious media: "I just have cramping in my leg. That's all."
The big-hitting Spaniard was in the middle of the Spanish language segment of his media debrief when he was struck with pain. He leaned back and put his
arm over his face.
"I just have cramping in front and behind," he said later. "Was so painful."
Earlier, Nadal overcame a blister on his right foot and two tight sets
to beat his good friend, 2002 Wimbledon runner-up David Nalbandian 7-6 (5), 6-1, 7-5, and
reach the fourth round.
The 76th-ranked Nalbandian went up a break in the fifth
game and served for the first set at 5-4, but he double-faulted on
break point. Then, at 3-all in the tiebreaker, Nalbandian
double-faulted again, helping the second-seeded Nadal nose ahead.
Nalbandian broke to begin the third set, but Nadal
broke right back to 1-1, then took an injury timeout after that game to
have his right foot taped because of the blister.
"Second set I think I played a very high level," Nadal
said during his news conference before the cramping. "Even if he was
beating me 4-2 and 5-4 on serve, I was very pleased about how I played
the first set, no? He was playing fantastic in my opinion at the
Nadal played far more cleanly and finished with only 18 unforced errors, 42 fewer than Nalbandian's total.
For a spot in the quarterfinals, Nadal will face 68th-ranked Gilles
Muller of Luxembourg, who hit 23 aces in his 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 victory over
Igor Kunitsyn of Russia.