Rafael Nadal: Hampered by injury, what’s next for the 22-time Grand Slam winner after Australian Open exit?


Images of Rafael Nadal walking off the court with an injury have sadly become an all too familiar sight for tennis fans.

Nadal’s defense of his Australian Open title came to a premature end on Wednesday as the 22-time Grand Slam champion was knocked out in the second round by American Mackenzie McDonald.

Nadal struggled with what looked like a hip injury throughout the match and at one point in the second set he abruptly stopped in considerable pain, before eventually needing treatment.

On Thursday, Nadal said an MRI revealed the hip injury could keep him out of competition for up to two months.

“I did medical tests after yesterday’s defeat”, Nadal said in a tweet. “The MRI showed I had a grade 2 injury in the left iliopsoas. Now comes rest from sports and anti-inflammatory physiotherapy. Normal recovery time is 6-8 weeks.

It’s a testament to Nadal’s remarkable tenacity and willpower – characteristics that define him and his incredible career – that he refused to pull out of Wednesday’s game, choosing instead to limp on until the end. END.

Such was the Spaniard’s determination and apparent tolerance for pain, he still made the game a tough one for McDonald, who eventually won 6-4 6-4 7-5 in two hours and 32 minutes. .

Cameras in the tunnel captured Nadal looking emotional as he trudged back to the locker room after the game, later defiantly declaring that retiring was never on his mind.

“I didn’t want to retire [as] the defending champion here. I didn’t want to leave the field with a retirement,” Nadal told reporters.

“It’s better that way in the end. I lost, nothing to say, congratulations [my] opponent. It’s sport at the same time – do your best until the end.

This new injury is the latest in a long list that has hampered Nadal throughout his career. As Father Time gradually catches up with the 36-year-old, Nadal’s injury problems have become more frequent over the past couple of years.

He won the first two Grand Slams of 2022 – the Australian Open and the French Open – in stunning fashion and was playing brilliant tennis at Wimbledon before an abdominal injury ended his career. bid for a third consecutive major title.

Injuries to his knees, elbows, left foot and left wrist have been a constant hurdle for Nadal and his recent injury issues appear to have impacted his performance level on the tennis court, with the world No. managing only one victory from his previous one. six games.

Former British tennis player Laura Robson, who won Junior Wimbledon aged just 14, had a promising career cut short by injuries and understands not only the physical toll they take but also the mental toughness needed to keep going to bounce back.

“Probably for Rafa, the same as for me, it’s just this continuous feeling of being on the back foot, trying to do as much training as possible but constantly dealing with issues in your body and not being able to train. for the level you want to commit to,” Robson, now a tennis commentator, told CNN Sport’s Amanda Davies.

“A lot has happened in the last 18 months or so, even last summer you went back to Wimbledon where he was playing great tennis after an incredible run in Australia and Paris. [for the French Open] and he is immersed in a slam and the ab[dominal] Give in.

Rafael Nadal admitted he was

“Here we are again, six months later, and he is struggling with another problem in the same area. Seemed like it was a bit of a hip flex issue but these things happen and unfortunately some people are more prone to injury than others it’s just on how you deal with it.

“He’s done an amazing job so far in his career so I’m confident he’ll be back better than ever. He just needs some time.

Indeed, as Robson points out, the fact that Nadal has managed to overcome so many injuries in his career only makes his all-time record of 22 Grand Slams all the more remarkable.

As is the case with any aging sports star, retirement questions inevitably start to swirl as fitness wanes or injuries become more prevalent.

For his part, Nadal was optimistic after his second-round loss and insisted the ‘R’ word was not on his mind.

For now, he insisted, his continued love for the sport outweighs the desire to hang up his racquet.

“It’s very simple: I love what I do,” Nadal told reporters, per ESPN. “I love playing tennis and I know it’s not forever. I like to feel competitive. I like to fight for the things that I have fought for almost half my life.

“When you love to do something, in the end, sacrifices always make sense, because the word ‘sacrifice’ is not like that. When you do things that you love to do, in the end, it doesn’t is not a sacrifice. You do the things you want to do.

While the injuries are undoubtedly frustrating – Nadal admitted he felt “mentally destroyed” after the latest setback – he has been here several times before and knows better than anyone what it takes to come back.

As his friend and longtime rival Roger Federer did in the twilight of his career, strategically picking and choosing which tournaments and Grand Slams to attend can be an option to increase Nadal’s longevity.

The French Open, Nadal’s favorite tournament and a title he has won 14 times, is the next major tournament on the tennis calendar and if he can shake off his recent injuries, the Spaniard will likely still be the favorite to win this grand slam. come at the end of May.

Nadal has been answering questions about his retirement for a while now and did so again on Wednesday, but Robson thinks stars like the 22-time Grand Slam champion should be allowed to broach the subject as they see fit and see fit. pace.

“I don’t like talking about someone’s retirement before they talk about it themselves,” Robson said.

“He’s going to be the first to talk about it and I think he deserves it. He’s given so much over the years to the sport and continues to stand out, always try, compete to the best of his abilities, even when he is not 100% physically.

“We’ve been through this so many times before with Andy [Murray]with roger [Federer]with Venus and Serena [Williams] on the women’s side, trying to pull off these legends before they’re ready to go. In the end, it’s up to him to decide. When he feels good, he’ll be fine.

“I don’t think we need to constantly speculate on when that will happen. If today was the last day in Australia, who knows, and if it was, we’re lucky to have him here again, and if not, fantastic, we’ll see him again next year.


Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button