Facebook Social Button Twitter Social Button YouTube Social Button Follow Me on Pinterest

Injury Update: Rafael Nadal

In a conference call for an upcoming exhibition, Rafael Nadal steers clear of setting a timeline for his return to tennis.

By Nicholas McCarvel

Rafael Nadal declines to give a timeline for his return to tennis (October 10, 2012) -- When Rafael Nadal strode onto Centre Court for his second round match at Wimbledon in late June this year, his 2012 season couldn’t have been looking better. He was the loser of one of the most compelling men’s finals at the Australian Open in January, and then racked up a 33-4 record, including titles in Barcelona, Madrid, Rome and the big daddy—the French Open.
 
But hours later, with the lights lit over tennis’ most famous court to make his match take on the glow of a movie set, Rafa was exiting with his bag slumped over his shoulder, soundly outplayed in the final set -- and throughout the match -- by unknown Lukas Rosol. It was one of the most shocking upsets in recent memory.
 
Over three months later, that’s the last we’ve seen of Nadal on a tennis court.
 
And -- according to Rafa -- it was perhaps the last he’s seen a court since his walking off of Centre Court, which was followed by glum announcements of no shows at the Olympics, the US Open Series tournaments, the US Open itself, and now the majority of the fall tennis swing.
 
On a conference call Tuesday to promote a March exhibition at Madison Square Garden featuring Nadal, Juan Martin del Potro, Serena Williams, and Victoria Azarenka, Nadal continued to steer clear of the court, giving no definitive timeline for his return to the game of tennis.
 
“Let’s go day-by-day,” he told reporters about the status of his return. “After missing the Olympics and after missing the US Open I don’t want to make goals to play a tournament. I want to go day-by-day in the gym and in the swimming pool… I wish today the situation was different.”
 
Yet the fact that Nadal is predominantly working off court -- in the gym and the pool -- could be viewed as a red flag. Just three months out from the Australian Open and he’s not hitting yet, over three months after his demoralizing defeat against Rosol. There is legitimate concern about a long-term Rafa absence.
 
“I never thought about that and the doctors never thought about that,” the world No. 4 said of an extended layoff. “The only thing we tried to make conservative [was the] treatment [and] it feels that is working well.
 
Depending on how 2012 closes, the year will mostly be remembered as the one that finally saw Andy Murray break through -- both at the Olympics and the U.S. Open. But Nadal’s absence is particularly significant at both of those stops, with the Spaniard beating Murray at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2011 in four sets, owning a 13-5 overall record against the Brit.
 
But Nadal, who is still just 26, is right to think less about what his injury has meant from a historical perspective and more of what it means for his future.
 
“It could take 3 weeks, it could take one month and a half, I don’t know,” Nadal said of his recovery. “Today what I think is continue with the treatment and when I don’t feel [anything] -- I’m hoping that will happen soon -- I will come back on the tennis court.
 
Last week, Nadal’s coach and uncle, Toni Nadal, made headlines when he said Rafa would return to the (practice) court in 15 days. The ATP World Tour schedule, longer at the back end than the WTA, continues for another three weeks prior to the World Tour Finals the week of Nov. 5. Davis Cup occurs the next weekend, Nov. 16-18.
 
“We are going to start very light training in another 15 days and when he is totally recovered and in totally good physical shape we will return to competition,” Toni Nadal told Fox Sports Argentina last week. “The problem is we are at the end of the year and I don’t know if he can play this year… it’s complicated.”
 
Everything appears to be complicated with Nadal when it comes to his knees. But there is an uncomplicated answer this situation: get healthy for 2013. Leave the rush of this season behind. Tennis, as a sport, wants Rafa back.
 
(File Photo: Rafael Nadal at the 2012 Sony Ericsson Open; Credit: Mark Howard)


 

News Headlines

Latest Blog Posts