Wimbledon: Rafael Nadal struggles through injury against Fritz
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Rafael Nadal has shed new light on what he has to go through to combat a chronic foot injury which previously drove him to the brink of retirement. The Spaniard showed incredible grit and resilience to notch two of the year’s four Grand Slam titles in 2022, pulling clear of Novak Djokovic at the top of the all-time Grand Slam charts.
Tough circumstances have made Nadal’s excellent 2022 look even more impressive. The Spanish veteran kicked off the calendar year by claiming his first Australian Open title in well over a decade and then battled through foot pain to win a staggering 14th French Open crown.
An unthinkable clean sweep was edging closer as he embarked on a promising run at Wimbledon, but he devastatingly tore an abdominal muscle before his semi-final showdown with Nick Kyrgios. That forced him to pull out and he suffered a similar issue leading up to the US Open in August.
Nadal played on regardless but was beaten in four sets by American Frances Tiafoe in the round of 16. The 36-year-old already has enough on his plate after being diagnosed with Mueller-Weiss Syndrome earlier in his career.
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The condition is degenerative and causes chronic pain in the middle of the foot. With Nadal taking drastic measures to play on, cement his legacy and stave off retirement, he explained the extent of his injury ordeal in a recent interview.
“After winning at Roland Garros I was happy but at the same time I thought that I was going to have to retire if a solution was not found for my foot because I could not continue with those chronic pains,” he told Marca. “The point is that the new treatment worked and on a mental level I was much more comfortable.
“The truth is that I have [used radiofrequency treatment] many times after Wimbledon because the injury is incurable and when the nerve starts to hurt you have to do it again. I have to thank Mario, my regular anesthetist in Barcelona, and Dr. Angel Ruiz-Cotorro, who put me in contact with David Abejon, a specialist in the Pain Unit, to start a treatment that has drastically changed me.
“No longer my career, which in the end is secondary, but my personal life. Now I am much happier, beyond winning or losing on the track, because I was lame. I played tennis with a lot of anti-inflammatories but I was lame all day. I thought that I had to quit tennis because I had lost my vitality and was a sad person most days.”
Despite the turbulent year, Nadal is poised to have a crack at Grand Slam number 23 when the Australian Open comes back around next month. Hard court specialist Novak Djokovic will also be Down Under after a controversial ordeal saw him deported before last year’s tournament.
Authorities initially hit the Serb with a three-year ban from the country but Aussie immigration minister Andrew Giles has overturned the decision and granted Djokovic a visa. The 35-year-old has won the Australian Open on nine prior occasions and he last came up against Nadal at Roland Garros earlier this year, losing in four sets.
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