NEW YORK (AP) - Rafael Nadal was back on his feet after a scary moment during his news conference about two hours after his third-round victory at the U.S. Open on Sunday, when he was overcome by pain from cramping in his right hamstring and thigh.
Reporters 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, reporters were allowed back in, and Nadal told everyone, “I just have cramping in my leg. That’s all.”
Nadal was in the middle of the Spanish portion of his news conference when he leaned back in his chair in obvious pain, his arm over his face.
“I just have cramping in front and behind,” he said later. “Was so painful.”
After receiving treatment and making a statement in English, he resumed his Spanish interviews.
Earlier, Nadal overcame a blister on his right foot and two tight sets to beat 2002 Wimbledon runner-up David Nalbandian 7-6 (5), 6-1, 7-5 and reach the fourth round on a muggy afternoon with temperatures in the 80s.
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.
“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 beginning.”
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.
Muller is playing at Flushing Meadows for the first time since reaching the quarterfinals as a qualifier in 2008.