Rafael Nadal: Hampered by injury, what’s next for 22-time grand slam winner following Australian Open exit?
Pictures of Rafael Nadal Walking off the court with an injury has unfortunately become an all too familiar sight for tennis fans.
Nadal defended himself Australian Open The title ended prematurely on Wednesday, as the 22-time Grand Slam champion was knocked out in the second round by American Mackenzie McDonald.
Nadal was struggling with a groin injury throughout the match and at one point in the second set was quickly pulled up in considerable pain, before requiring treatment.
On Thursday, Nadal said an MRI scan revealed a groin injury could keep him out of competitive action for up to two months.
“I did some medical tests after losing yesterday,” Nadal said in a tweet. “The MRI showed a grade 2 injury to my left iliopsoas. Some relief now comes from sports and anti-inflammatory physiotherapy. Normal recovery time is 6 to 8 weeks.
It’s a testament to Nadal’s remarkable tenacity and willpower – traits that have come to define him and his illustrious career – that he refused to withdraw from Wednesday’s match, choosing instead to limp on until the end.
Such is the Spaniard’s determination and apparent tolerance for pain, he still made the match a tough contest for McDonald, who eventually won 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 in two hours and 32 minutes.
Cameras in the tunnel showed Nadal looking emotional as he returned to the locker room after the match, later saying that withdrawing was never on his mind.
“I didn’t want to retire [as] Defending champions here. I didn’t want to retire and leave the court,” Nadal told reporters.
“It’s better this way in the end. I lost, nothing to say, congratulations [my] Rivalry It’s a game at once – do your best till the end.
This latest injury is the latest in a long list that has hampered Nadal throughout his career. With Father Time slowly catching up with the 36-year-old, Nadal’s injury concerns have risen steadily over the past two years.
He won the first two Grand Slams of 2022 – the Australian Open and the French Open – in style and was playing some brilliant tennis at Wimbledon before an abdominal injury cut short his bid for a third straight major title.
Injuries to his knees, elbows, left foot and left wrist have continued to hamper Nadal and his recent injury concerns seem to have affected his performance level on the tennis court, with the world No. Has managed just one win since. Six matches
Former British tennis player Laura Robson, who won Junior Wimbledon at just 14, had a career cut short by injuries and understands not only the physical toll, but also the mental strength to keep bouncing back.
“Maybe for Rafa, as it was for me, it’s just that you’re on the back foot, trying to practice as much as possible, but constantly dealing with your body issues and being able to train. Not happening. The level you want to commit to,” Robson, now a tennis commentator, told CNN Sport’s Amanda Davis.
“He’s had a lot of things happen in the last 18 months or so, even last summer you went back to Wimbledon where he was playing some great tennis with great runs in Australia and Paris. [for the French Open] And he is a slam and deep in the ab[dominal] gives way
“Here we are again six months later, and he’s dealing with another issue in the same area. It sounded to me like it was a bit of a hip flexor issue, but these things happen and unfortunately some people are more likely to get hurt than others, it’s about how you deal with it.
“He’s done an unbelievable job dealing with it so far in his career, so I’ve no doubt he’ll come back better than ever. He just needs some time.”
Indeed, as Robson points out, Nadal manages to overcome so many injuries throughout his career, making his all-time record of just 22 Grand Slams the most remarkable.
As with sports stars of any age, questions of retirement inevitably begin to swirl as form declines or injuries become more prevalent.
For his part, Nadal was unsettled after his second-round loss and insisted the ‘R’ word was not on his mind.
For now, he insists, his continued love for the game outweighs his desire to hang up his racket.
“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 I’ve been fighting for half my life.
“When you do something you love, in the end, sacrifices always mean something, because the word ‘sacrifice’ is not. When you do something you love to do, at the end of the day, it’s not a sacrifice. You’re doing what you want to do.”
While the injuries are undoubtedly frustrating – Nadal admitted he felt “mentally destroyed” after the latest setback – he has been here many times before and knows better than most what it takes to come back.
As his longtime friend and rival Roger Federer did in the twilight of his career, strategically picking and choosing which tournaments and Grand Slams to compete in could be an option to extend Nadal’s longevity.
The French Open, Nadal’s favorite tournament and a title he has won an astonishing 14 times, is the next major on the tennis calendar and if he can overcome his recent injuries, the Spaniard could still be favorite to win that Grand Slam. is likely Come the end of May.
Nadal has raised questions about his retirement for some time and did so again on Wednesday, but Robson believes stars like the 22-time Grand Slam champion should broach the subject on his own terms and in his own time. should be allowed.
“I don’t like to talk about someone’s retirement before they talk about it themselves,” Robson said.
“He’s going to be the first one to bring it up and I think he deserves it. He has given so much to this sport over the years and is still putting himself out there, still trying, still competing to the best of his ability even though he is not 100% physically. is
“We’ve been through this many times before with Andy [Murray]with roger [Federer]with Venus and serena [Williams] On the women’s side, these legends are looking to retire before they’re ready to go. Ultimately, it depends on him. When it feels right, it will be right.
“I don’t think we need to constantly speculate about 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, great, we’ll see him next year.