Rafael Nadal has been a dominating force in the tennis worst for the better part of two decades. The 35-year-old became the first men’s tennis player to win 21 Grand Slams titles after winning the Australian Open in January. Rafa had a great start to the season with 20 consecutive wins before he suffered a rib stress fracture at the Indian Wells.
The world no. 4 pulled out of a few tournaments ahead of the clay season and was sidelined for six weeks before making a comeback at the Madrid Open. After missing out on the first tournament since his return, Nadal played the Italian Open to retain his footing on the clay court ahead of the Roland Garros. However, on Thursday, Nadal was seen struggling with extreme pain during the round 16 encounter against Denis Shapovlav.
The disappointment was clearly visible on Nadal’s face as he struggled to move on the court barely. This resulted in a 6-1, 5-7, 2-6 loss against the Canadian tennis player after comfortably winning the first set. The Spaniard’s age-old foot injury surfaced during the second set surfaced. He was seen limping and looking at his team in the stands with sheer disdain.
Rafa also shook his head and spent the change of end with his head buried in his lap. However, this is not the first instance that Nadal has been restricted by injured. The Spaniard has struggled with injuries all throughout his career, and his foot injury has been there for the most part. So, is Nadal thinking of retiring as he approaches his 36th birthday next month?
Will Nadal’s Prolonged Foot Injury End His Career?
Injuries are a common and natural part of sports. The athletes push their bodies to the limits, and only a few succeed in enduring it. Moreover, tennis players have a more complicated relationship with injuries as it is not a team sport. While athletes are used to playing with injuries, team sports allow the coaches to restrict their injured players and shield their bodies, sometimes against the players’ will. Meanwhile, in tennis, the individual player has the final say about their schedule, which can be a problem sometimes. And Nadal is known for his fight, so there is no way he would be willing to give now.
The Spaniard’s career has been filled with injuries. He has missed 11 Grand Slam tournaments in his career since his Wimbledon debut in 2003. Rafa has also been knocked out of a lot of other tournaments, with the Grand Slam leader losing the battle with his body. Rafael Nadal’s career has been a vicious cycle of the immaculate run of form and a fresh period of brilliance before crashing down with an injury.
However, this time the frustrations are soaring high as Nadal is not dealing with a typical injury with a period of recovery. The foot injury that Rafa has is fairly inconsistent and has been with him since he was 17. Eighteen years ago, Nadal suffered from a stress fracture in his foot. The doctors revealed that the Spaniard has a degenerative foot injury called the Muller-Weiss disease. The condition weakens the navicular bone in the foot and gets worse as an athlete goes through an eleven-month-long season.
Over the years, the injury has taken a lot of time, effort, and treatments to manage a permanent injury. Last year, Rafael Nadal was sidelined due to the same injury. He was also spotted limping several times after the match while going for the press conferences.
Nadal Talks About His Injury
After his defeat, the Spaniard said he thought there would be a day when his head would say enough. Rafael shared that pain takes his happiness away, not only in tennis but in life too. He added, “My problem is that I live many day with too much pain.”
However, Rafael Nadal has fought hard to create longevity in his career despite the injury. The commendable feats that he has achieved are a signature of his determination and will. Nadal was having a great run this year before his injuries came to haunt him. Although currently, the Spaniard is battling his foot pain. He aims to fight for the 14th Roland Garros title next week. Hopefully, Nadal will get back on his feet and show his class as the King of Clay.