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Rafael Nadal injury: Return unknown, hints at shutting down season

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Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal has not played since a second-round loss at Wimbledon. (Getty Images)

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Mail, Rafael Nadal reiterated his lack of certainty about his return to the ATP Tour. But with the season-ending World Tour Finals a little more than a month away, Nadal’s comments, while still leaving open the door for a comeback this year, hint more toward shutting down his 2012 season:

“I hope you see me in Australia,” says Nadal, who is in the Spanish capital to promote his involvement with PokerStars. “That is the biggest goal for me, to come back just before then in Qatar, but I cannot say for sure it is going to happen.

“The only thing is to recover well. I want to be 100 percent when I come back. I don’t want to keep playing every day with doubts, not knowing if my knee is going to answer all the questions.”

Mike Dickson reported that Nadal has yet to return to the practice courts, instead enduring a daily rehabilitation routine that involves strengthening exercises and swimming. On the whole, Rafa sounds positive about his rehab efforts and his goal to be 100 percent healthy is the right one. At this stage in his career, with all that he’s accomplished, playing while compromised in a game that advances in its physicality year after year is untenable.

But perhaps the most interesting admission from Nadal is his willingness to adjust his schedule to play more clay-court tournaments. Considering he plays a full schedule during the European clay-court season, this would mean a detour down to South America in February and March to participate in a series of smaller events known as “The Golden Swing.”

The 11-time Grand Slam winner has been vocal throughout his career about the physical toll of playing the majority of the year on hard courts, and while two of the four Slams are played on the surface, Nadal is clearly entering into a phase of his career where health and longevity weigh heavily on his mind:

“It’s not going to change for me and my generation. Hard courts are very negative for the body. I know the sport is a business and creating these courts is easier than clay or grass, but I am 100 percent sure it is wrong. I may have to play more on clay than before but there aren’t that many options.”

  • Published On Sep 25, 2012
  • 7 comments
    dmmtennis
    dmmtennis

    I don't see how he really has much choice. Once you add up all the mandatory events, there really isn't that much left to work with. Throw in Davis Cup and warm-up events (e.g., Queen's or Halle before Wimbledon, Qatar before the Australian), and it's not like Nadal has been playing 15 random hard court events that he can now switch to clay.

     

    If anything, he might be able to get rid of Barcelona, but he's almost certainly going to want to play in Qatar before Melbourne in order to have some match play. Maybe he should just ignore the post-US Open indoor season, which seems superfluous anyway and is routinely poorly attended by the top players.

    PurityPrydain
    PurityPrydain

    The real question that needs to be asked is "would Nadal have continued to play at Wimbledon had he NOT lost to Rosol?" The answer is obviously "yes" he would have kept playing at Wimbledon which calls into question the extent of his knee injury.  So, the real issue is how did that loss affect Nadal's confidence such that he's likely going to quit the rest of this season and then focus mostly on clay tournaments next season - clay being, by far, his best surface.

    IdaAnnaTaylor
    IdaAnnaTaylor

    There's no doubt that hardcourts are the toughest on the body, and that a longer grass season would be great, but doing all that just to benefit one player who happens to play a grinding style is hardly fair.  David Ferrer at age 30 plays a grinding style and plays more than Nadal does and I don't see him falling apart physically.   The bottom line is Nadal has bad knees and he plays a style that makes it worse.  But tennis does not needs to change just to accomodate him.  He's not bigger than the game. 

    StrickHarris
    StrickHarris

     @PurityPrydain If u had some knowledge u would know that Nadal got through French Open on anti inflammatories and by the time he got to Wimbly he was suffering badly and admits he shouldn't  have played but after winning French it was a tough decision. So either way he would have lost at some point - Rosol or not. When healthy he can crush anyone so a punk like Rosol won't hurt confidence if losing to Nole seven in a row didn't. Wake up moron n u name sucks

    dmmtennis
    dmmtennis

     @IdaAnnaTaylor I don't think anyone thinks the schedule needs to change just to accommodate Nadal. He's just adding his two cents to the chorus  of people who think there ought to be changes.

     

    People have complained about the tennis calendar for many years, and it's changed many times. A subtle move away from so many hard court tournaments isn't unthinkable, especially now that the game is more physical and given how injuries and fatigue have sidelined a lot of top players (many more than just Nadal).

     

    Getting rid of best-of-five outside of the majors is a good example of a concession that was made in favor of helping out the players physically. It didn't happen all that long ago, either.

    StrickHarris
    StrickHarris

     @IdaAnnaTaylor there is no other sport that is played on cement. Tennis has evolved into an explosive powerful game. Players are bigger,faster n stronger and many players suffer from injuries not just Nadal. He has played more than anyone in last several years and if u take away Fed, Nole, Murray n Nadal tennis would suffer immeasurably so yes top players are bigger than the game n they all nurse back, knee n leg injury.

    Barbra
    Barbra

     @StrickHarris  @IdaAnnaTaylor  Nadal is a victim of what he helped create, that physical grinding style of tennis is due in  large part to him, and now he is paying the price.