MELBOURNE, Australia | Given his recent losses, we suspected Rafael Nadal would not last long at this Australian Open where he was the defending champion. But now another plate fell on the head of the Spanish legend on Wednesday.
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“Rafa” was already a set to zero behind American Mackenzie McDonald in his second-round match when his left hip started hurting him at the score of 5-3 in the second set.
The tournament favorite was then taken out of Rod Laver Arena for treatment. But in his box, his relatives knew too well what was going on. His coach Carlos Moya was disappointed. His wife Xisca wiped away a few tears.
After that foot, he needs treatment for a degenerative disease and the abdominal muscle that was torn at Wimbledon, ‘Rafa’ was injured again.
He thought about giving up
The 36-year-old tenor considered giving up the match. But he eventually preferred to persevere and try to fight to the end. It was in vain. Unable to hit the backhand, Nadal struggled to run. He lost 6-4, 6-4 and 7-5 to the world 65th, who seemed very uncomfortable celebrating his win in front of a downed champion.
“I have to admit that I’m mentally exhausted,” the Spaniard admitted a little later at a press conference. I hope it’s not too serious. […] I hope this injury doesn’t keep me off the field for too long because then it will be difficult to go through the recovery process again.”
A well-known refrain
“Rafa” knows the said process by heart. Because it wasn’t just about the foot, the abdominal muscles and now the hips: his career, which was crowned with 22 major titles, was also marked by many other injuries.
“It’s not just the recovery,” he noted. There’s also the whole volume of work that needs to be done to bring it back up to an acceptable level. I’ve been there too many times in my career… I think I can still do it, but it’s not easy.”
But despite his age, the world second – who will drop to at least sixth place after that setback – says he’s ready to give it another try.
Because he loves tennis very much.
“I know that one day I will have to stop. But when you love doing something, the sacrifices you make aren’t real sacrifices anymore,” he said.
“Even so, having spent so much of my career recovering and trying to come back is tiring and frustrating.”
Nadal has talked about it a lot lately: the last seven months have been complicated, marked by a single result that is quite correct by his standards, that fourth round in New York.
“I took it well [toutes ces périodes de réadaptation], he said. Now I don’t know what’s going to happen but I hope I can avoid another long break otherwise it will be super difficult to find the rhythm, get competitive again and fight for my goals again.”
“Let’s see what the injury brings back and how I can stick to the schedule.”
– With AFP
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