Tomic 'should have withdrawn'

When I got to Melbourne, I can't honestly say my expectations were as high as if I'd been playing for the last four months. It's been a good effort to get to the quarter-finals of a slam this soon after back surgery. But anyone that's in the quarters is close.

I play Roger Federer next and that's going to be special; I'm looking forward to that match and hopefully will play a good one. Whether or not I'm ready to beat him I'll find out, obviously, when I get on court.

It'll be the highest level I've played at since the surgery. I've been hitting the ball well and clean so far, but when you play up at that level, if there's anything you aren't doing at 100 per cent, players like Roger are going to exploit that. I'll need to play a great match to beat him.

Every player out there is dealing with some sort of niggle or little injury problem every time they play. It's not easy. I saw Bernard Tomic getting some boos when he pulled out against Rafa at the start of the tournament and, to be honest, that's a tough one to deal with.

A lot of players keep playing through injuries for long periods, but I think when you're younger and you haven't maybe experienced it as much, you don't necessarily know where the barrier is. There's a type of pain where you cannot go on the court and play and there's other pain that's bearable.

I think from the crowd's perspective, it probably would have been better if Tomic hadn't gone on the court because, as he said, he had injured his groin the day before. In that way, the crowd would have had a proper match, rather than 30 minutes where he wasn't really able to move properly. It's one of those things: it's a difficult situation to be in and I'm sure he'll learn from the experience and will know how to handle it better in the future.

I know Tomic is going to have hip surgery but I don't think that was the reason he pulled out of the match against Rafa. Normally when you have surgery – unless you fall over and break an ankle or you hurt your wrist or something on a specific shot – it's for something you've been dealing with for quite a while.

If he had a groin strain or a muscular injury, they are very hard to play with. In my opinion, these were two separate issues for Tomic, but even so, you don't want to be going into a match, especially against someone like Rafa, with an injury. Any injury.

But Rafa has had to deal with injuries during his career and some of them have been very serious – he missed seven months in 2012 because of his knee problems.

And a couple of days ago, when he was playing Nishikori, he had to call for the trainer to have treatment for blisters. Most people would think that doesn't sound like much – professional athletes should be strong enough to handle blisters – but something like that really does matter.

With team sports, if someone has blisters and they have to come off, it's fine. The game still goes on. It's no problem. They just make a substitution. But in an individual sport, if you have an injury or a problem like blisters – which can be very sore if you don't get them treated – and you can't move properly, then you can lose the match for that.

As a player, you need to take care of your body as well as you possibly can and make sure that you're able to play as close to 100 per cent as possible. As I've said, at this level, if you play at 90 per cent, it's easy to lose any match and you can't be subbed out.

With Rafa, would the people watching rather Rafa got the physio on and had his blisters treated or would they want him to walk off the court and says 'sorry, my hands and feet are too sore, I can't play any more'? I think they'd rather watch him finish the match.

The injuries might appear insignificant, but the way you deal with them can be the difference between winning and losing.

The good news for me is that I am feeling good. I'm a little bit stiffer and sorer than maybe I would have been in previous years, because then I would have played a lot more matches.

Against Stephane Robert, I played two hours and 42 minutes, my longest match since my surgery. Naturally I'm going to be a little bit stiff and sore after that. But with each match, my body is adjusting and each day I'm closer to 100 per cent. I can't wait to get back on the court on Wednesday night; it will be a great match.

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