Rafael Nadal on Monday revealed his Australian Open bid was nearly over before it started after he suffered crippling pain in his troublesome right knee on the eve of his first match.
Nadal, who brushed aside America's Alex Kuznetsov 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 to reach the second round, said he had been fit leading up to the grand slam but was hit by the worst knee pain he had ever experienced on Sunday.
The Spanish world number two was only able to take to the court for his early evening match after intensive treatment including physiotherapy and anti-inflammatory drugs.
"I had a fantastic week of practice with nothing of pain, not one bad feeling on the knee and not one place on my body. So I was really, really happy with everything," said Nadal, who played with the knee heavily strapped.
"But yesterday afternoon happened the most strange thing ever to happen to me. I was sitting on a chair in the hotel. I felt like a crack on the knee, but is nothing really strange. Happens a lot of time with articulation, movement."
"I stand up. I felt the knee was a little bit strange. I moved the leg like this two times to try to find the feeling," he added, gesturing.
"After the second time, the knee stays with an unbelievable pain completely straight. I really couldn't move the knee like this. I have no movement on the knee," Nadal said.
The 2009 champion said he then spent a "hard afternoon" doing an ultrasound at Melbourne Park and an MRI scan at a hospital, but the tests came up clear.
"Seriously, yesterday during the evening I wasn't 100 percent sure I would have the chance to play, because with the movement of that knee I felt that I will not be able to play.
"I did a lot of treatment. The MRI was positive. Nothing wrong shows the MRI. So that's always a lot of calm. But still the knee, you know, with the pain."
Nadal, who believed the tendon may have been pinched, said he achieved full movement in his knee late Saturday after a lot of work on it but was still in pain.
"I wake up today (Monday) morning with a little bit better feeling. I did all the treatment. I was all the day doing the treatment.
"I started the match with a little bit of a scare at the beginning, and nervous because I was really disappointed yesterday. But, you know, after the first 10 games... I started to play with normal conditions.
"The best thing is I felt the knee very well," said 2009 Australian Open champion Nadal, who added he was upbeat about his fitness for the rest of the tournament.
"I was much more scared about the first match than the rest, because today now I have 48 hours to the next match.
"So I am really confident that having the worst feeling that I ever had in my knee yesterday and today was able to play. I have fantastic hope that's going to happen the same for after tomorrow."
Nadal's uncompromising style is sometimes blamed for his injury problems, and he complained this week that the demands of tennis could leave him in poor physical condition by the end of his career.
"He (Roger Federer) finishes his career like a rose because he has a privileged physique. But neither (Andy) Murray, nor (Novak) Djokovic nor I will finish fresh as a rose," he told Spanish media.
The Spaniard claimed the Australian Open title in 2009 but was forced to retire hurt against Andy Murray in 2010 and and was hampered by a left adductor injury in his quarter-final defeat to David Ferrer last year.