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Nadal dismisses press room collapse as just ‘cramping’

RAFA Nadal sent shockwaves through the US Open when he collapsed during his post-match news conference because of severe cramping in his leg, as the first week of the tournament ended in dramatic fashion.

The scorching conditions have been a key factor in the 18 retirements so far at the final major of the season, and for a brief moment it appeared the defending men’s champion would join them in an event that has become a survival of the fittest.

Britain’s Andy Murray enjoyed his best performance of the tournament to defeat Spain’s Feliciano Lopez 6-1 6-4 6-2 in a night match, two days after he was pushed to five sets.

There was no sign of what was to come from Nadal as the Spanish second seed eased his way past David Nalbandian 7-6 6-1 7-5, although the pair played at the hottest part of the day and were soaked in sweat almost as soon as they started.

“I think I have played better every day,” Nadal said. “Today, for moments, I played, in my opinion, at a very, very positive level, very high level.”

Moments later, Nadal suddenly stopped talking, covered his face with his hands and slumped to the floor.

Journalists were ordered to leave the room and the lights were turned down as medical staff were called to treat the Spaniard, who slid from his chair on to the floor.

He was obscured by a desk but closed circuit television showed a trainer massaging his right leg while another man gave Nadal ice and fluids. The Spaniard remained on the carpet for about 10 minutes before he was eventually helped to his feet.

He returned to the conference room shortly after to explain what happened, smiling and playing down the incident.

“I just have cramping in my leg. That’s all,” he said.