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Rafa Nadal, pain and misfortune, double crossroads

Latest NewsRafa Nadal, pain and misfortune, double crossroads

No one looks at Rafael Nadal better than Nadal himself, far from that spontaneous and somewhat naive boy who shot the first thing that came to his mind, without filters and allegories, to the laughter of those present. Over the years, the tennis player has learned to master the art of oratory and scrupulously doses each message, expressing only what he wants to convey, and nothing more. He rarely gets out of control or stumbles, much less falls into the trap that is set for him from time to time. However, rarely has he heard him speak so rudely about the injury he has dragged on his left leg (since he was 18 years old) as this Thursday, when the pain became almost unbearable and prevented him from competing with Canadian Denis. Shapovalov, who knocked him out of the Rome Masters.

“It was very clear at the press conference,” confirms a member of his team. “There is nothing more to say, because there is nothing more. He’s in Barcelona visiting his doctors to see if he can do anything to ease the pain,” the man adds the day after the 21-year-old champion opened up to reporters. Without dramatizing, but being extremely realistic, Nadal confirmed what was already known, but this time he went even further. The Mallorcan reiterated that he suffers from a chronic condition (Müller-Weiss Syndrome) that makes it difficult for him to practice his profession and play at the highest level, but he also brought into the speech an absolutely key concept of his ideology: happiness.

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In this sense, his words for the first time revealed a crack. “I play because it makes me happy, but the pain takes away that happiness. I live on a lot of painkillers, so I can train every day, but I can’t go on like this for long. I do not pretend to be in perfect condition, but at least I hope that I can go to the track, ”he said; “Unfortunately, my daily life is really difficult. Sometimes it’s hard for me to accept the situation. It’s hard to be able to train for several days in a row, and the elite require the ability to move well, which is something I’m not able to train. I’m not going to play the victim, I have what I have. If I don’t take anti-inflammatory drugs, I will become lame. I’ll keep going like this until I’ve come to terms with this topic and my head hasn’t said enough.”

With a showcase full of trophies and at the head of a great historic race to become the greatest of all time, Nadal, who will soon turn 36 (he will do so on June 3), attributes his succession to the daily stimulus that tennis can deliver. you, in addition to titles. “When you play without enjoyment, you should not go out into the world without enjoying what you are doing. The results matter, but what really matters is that you are happy with what you are doing… and tennis still makes me happy,” he said in an interview given to this newspaper at the end of 2015, when he had not yet reached thirty, the marker did not accompany him, and he was a victim of anxiety and nerves.

Erosion return

As then, the tennis player now connects the continuation of his career with what reality has to offer him. At that time his mind suffered, today it is his body. Nadal will continue until his left foot allows him, but the emotional impact he has had over the past year has been important. Even a privileged head like his does not forget the erosion caused by injuries more than repetitive in his case. Throughout his career, the Majorcan has spent more than three and a half years in the infirmary due to various injuries, from the foot to the back, through the wrist, psoas or knees. Too many punishments, too many misfortunes. A new start that does not stop and puts pressure on him, although he has not yet given up.

“I will not stop believing or fighting. In this I will not fail,” he foresees. “I don’t know what will happen tomorrow or in two weeks, but my head is ready to take on the challenge. I just have to put my foot up to let me play,” adds the man from Manacor, who has a nine-day minimum to try to recover for Roland Garros starting on the 22nd. There he will land with just five games. clay in the feet (13 sets, 11 hours 26 minutes) and a short shoot. Before “Justillo” reappeared at Caja Mágica in Madrid, he was out last week for a month and a half due to a cracked rib (March 19, Indian Wells), and was again stopped by a leg last year; it happened precisely in Paris and forced him to stop for more than six months.

Nadal’s legs in limbo during service.GUGIELMO MANGIAPANE (REUTERS)

He returned to the race and, against all odds, triumphantly won in Australia with two other trophies (Melbourne and Acapulco) and more wins than any other in the first quarter. “A miracle,” he described then. Nadal faces yet another impossible as he bravely rises up against a fate that insists on putting him between a rock and a hard place again and again. Sports crossroads, also vital. “Pain robs you of happiness, and not only to play, but also to live. My problem is that many days I live with too much pain. I like what I do, but it gives me many days of misfortune,” repeats the Spaniard, who, despite adversity and absence, continues to lead the annual race to determine the best player of the season.

Again for a while, Nadal is looking for a cure under the supervision of Dr. Angel Ruiz-Cotorro and the support of the inner circle, which encourages a psychologically unhealthy athlete. “There will come a day when my head will say enough,” he lamented two nights ago at Foro Italico in Rome, in the scene of a painful and somewhat new episode: Nadal had never before been so vulnerable to a kick, the origin of the current misfortune.


Nadal suffers from osteochondritis of the scaphoid, a degenerative injury that weakens the bone and joint for which there is no effective treatment. In April 2004, while participating in a tournament in Estoril, the Spaniard suffered a stress fracture, and the injury led to osteoarthritis in this area of ​​u200bu200bthe foot. Since then, preventive medication and physiotherapy have been used, but as the athlete grows older, the degree of pain intensifies.

“My scaphoid split in half, it’s a problem with no solution,” Nadal described in January. He did it in Melbourne and during the competition on the cement surface, a priori the most unfavorable for his left foot; however, both the episode that stopped him last year in Paris and this one in Rome took place on clay, terrain where the pros’ gliding, support and maneuvers are less aggressive.

Last season, Nadal lost to Novak Djokovic in the Roland Garros semi-finals, and during the match with the number one, he was already visibly limping. In fact, this is not a new image. Often, when faced with a pulse of high physical exertion or of long duration, the Mallorcan usually walks with difficulty and the pain follows him outside of the competition.

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