Toni Nadal: "Rafa's career is not in danger"
By ADRIAN PEINADO | 16/08/2012 | Translated by nou.amic for http://www.VamosBrigade.com
Never has a press release caused such an uproar as the one issued yesterday by Rafael Nadal Parera, the best Spanish tennis player in history. "I'm very sad to have to announce I'm still not ready to play and have to pull out of the US Open," he wrote on the social networks. Then the storm broke... and the doubts began. The Mallorcan has been sidelined by the problems he has in the patellar tendon of his left knee since he lost to the then No.100 Czech Lukas Rosol in the second round at Wimbledon. An injury which is as well known as it is painful, as he has had it since 2006. So painful that it forced him to withdraw from the London Olympic Games, where he would have been Spain's flag bearer, and the Masters 1000 in Toronto and Cincinnati and so gloomy that some have dared to suggest his prompt inevitable retiral at the age of 26. That conjecture is a pessimistic one made from a distance. Close up, just a few metres away from the tennis player, it all looks different. There is hope.
"Rafael's career is not in danger," was the prognosis Toni Nadal, the world number three's uncle and trainer, gave on 'El Larguero' (CadenaSER) last night. "Indeed this extended stoppage is good so he can prolong it (the recovery period) as much as possible. We have been using stop gap measures for the past two months so he could continue playing, but the doctor has advised us that it is best for him to recover well. We have already missed the Olympics and now the US Open, we're in no hurry to come back. We have to be patient so we can return in the best of conditions to play well. It could be at the Davis Cup (semi-final tie against the United States in Gijón starting 14 September) or a little bit later. But I hope it won't be much later," he went on.
Toni, like Angel Ruiz Cotorro, the RFET doctor and the player's personal doctor, believes the only viable solution is rest, not an operation, which would prolong his return for up to six months. During the past weeks they have continued with the growth factor treatment of the damaged tendons. But they are not achieving the expected results. Now, as a result of the accumulated effort made over the whole claycourt season, the inflammation (tendinitis) in his patellar joints has caused degeneration of the tendon fibre (tendinosis), thus increasing the period necessary for recovery. In other words, he has chronic pain that demands a minimum of three months' rest and if not treated with absolute rest could develop into patellar chondropathy, an even greater problem.
"The treatment we're going to follow is conservative. It's the most prudent and it's what Rafael wants. He is in good spirits because he knows it's the only way he can compete without pain. This week he has been able to practise with intensity, but he ended each practice in pain and we knew it would be difficult to play the next tournaments like that. We've really thought it through and it's best for him to recover completely," explained Toni, who made light of the possible effects on his ranking. Nadal has withdrawn from four tournaments on the calendar reducing his points tally by 1380 (including the Flushing Meadow final) which would cede his number three place to Britain's Andy Murray.
But all of this matters little. There are other goals. In the short term, he hopes to recover in time to be fit to play well in the final "rush" of the season with the Masters Cup as his main goal. It will be played on indoor cement, in conditions that rub both his knees and his game up the wrong way. But Nadal will only come back when he believes he can be victorious. Not before that. He knows that any relapse could be terrible... and that there will be new opportunities opening up for him in the future. "He is determined to play in the next Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016," Toni announced. Believe him. From now on, there is only one option: playing it safe.