World number one Rafael Nadal said he would hate to quit a Grand Slam final despite the back injury that derailed his Australian Open hopes.
6-3 6-2 3-6 6-3
to Stanislas Wawrinka, ending his bid for a second Australian and 14th Grand Slam title.
The Spaniard, 27, had been hoping to become only the third man to win all four major titles at least twice.
"The last thing that I wanted to do was retire. No, I hate to do that, especially in a final," he said.
Nadal's final statistics
- Before Sunday's final Nadal had won all 12 previous matches against Wawrinka without dropping a set
- Nadal was playing in his 19th Grand Slam final in his 37th major
- He was seeking his 14th Grand Slam title to equal Pete Sampras' total
"At the same time, it's tough to see yourself during the whole year, working for a moment like this, and the moment arrives and you feel that you are not able to play at your best."
The Spaniard revealed that he had felt an issue with his back even before the match had started.
"Since the beginning I felt it a little bit, from the warm-up," he said. "At the end of the first set, I started to feel worse.
"Then at the beginning of the second was the key moment that I felt, during a serve in a bad movement, it was very stiff, very bad."
Nadal then left the court for a medical timeout, unaware of the exact nature of the problem.
"You can ask the physio, because in that moment I was too worried to think about what happened," he said.
"The physio tried to relax a little bit the back. When that happens during a match it's almost impossible. I tried hard."
Nadal was jeered by large sections of the crowd when he returned from the medical timeout, with some feeling he was trying to disrupt the in-form Wawrinka, but the Spaniard received a standing ovation at the presentation ceremony, by which time it was clear he had been struggling badly.
"Nadal could have easily walked off court but he didn't and it added to the match. I was impressed at how Wawrinka had the mental capacity to finish off the match. For a while it looked like he was getting nervous, tired, missing easy shots and screaming at his team. It can be hard to beat an injured player, especially an injured Rafa. To beat a Rafa at 60% is not easy. It was a fantastic gutsy effort from both of them."
"Sometimes it's tough for the crowd to understand," said Nadal. "The only thing they want to do is enjoy a great match.
"They paid for a ticket to watch the best match possible, and I was not able to offer that to them for some moments.
"I wanted to try my best until the end, but I can understand very well the reaction. They understood later that I was bad. I was trying all that I can try on the court with that situation.
"The crowd was great with me during both weeks. The support has been enormous, more than ever. I feel very, very proud about how they treat me, how the crowd is supporting me here.
"You never will heard me talk badly about the crowd here."
And Nadal was keen to pay tribute to Wawrinka, "a good friend" who won his first Grand Slam title.
"It's Stan's day, not my day," he said.
"He was playing amazing. It's very tough to stop him when he's playing that way.
"So I just congratulate him because he's playing better and better and he's playing with amazing confidence, hitting every ball very, very hard, moving great."