‘What could have been’, while you wouldn’t see this quote associated with Rafael Nadal a lot, it can still somehow justify the potential career he could have had barring one hurdle. A hurdle that he kept challenging on repeat for his entire career.
Rafael Nadal is a warrior. When we see his accolades and titles, we often forget the hardship he has had to deal with during his entire tennis career. His career could have easily folded under the immense pressure from his body and the injuries. But, Nadal denies them each walking day.
Of all the major injuries that have plagued the man’s career, there’s one that has been disastrous for him, an injury in the form of Mueller-Weiss Syndrome. It’s a rare chronic disease that causes a degenerative condition on the bones in the feet. It affects the navicular bone present on the back of the foot.
The 37-year-old has been suffering from this condition for almost two decades now. He was first diagnosed with this disease in 2005. Coincidently, it is the same year he won his first-ever Grand Slam in Roland Garros. How the Spaniard has been able to keep up his pace and performance is a miracle in itself.
In his autobiography, Nadal shed light on the injury, stating that it was ‘a state of deepest gloom’ and that he had no ‘appetite for life’ during that stage of his career. The doctors warned him that his career would not be long enough and that he should look for other options.
“(The) diagnosis had initially been like a shot to the head, The bone still hurts me. It remains under control, just, but we can never drop our guard,” he wrote in his book.
That left foot injury has rebounded many times to give him serious trouble in his career. He has had to pull out of several major tournaments and in some, he had to endure it, which eventually hindered his performances.
Hi all, during my last match in Brisbane I had a small problem on a muscle that as you know made me worried. Once I got to Melbourne I have had the chance to make an MRI and I have micro tear on a muscle, not in the same part where I had the injury and that’s good news.— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) January 7, 2024
But life went on for Rafa, he captured title after title, constantly being hailed as the best player on the planet, dominating Roland Garros and always standing straight against adversities. There’s another line in his book which perfectly summarizes the life and mind of Rafael Nadal.
“What I battle hardest to do in a tennis match is to quiet the voices in my head, to shut everything out of my mind … should a thought of victory suggest itself, crush it.”
“I think I have the capacity to accept difficulties and overcome them that is superior to many of my rivals.”
Rafael Nadal announces his exit from Australian Open 2024
The return of the 22-time Grand Slam Champion didn’t go as planned, as he suffered another setback a week before the Australian Open. He also announced on Sunday that he has decided to pull out of the tournament for further treatment.
The Spaniard suffered a minor tear in his muscles during his quarter-final bout against Jordan Thompson in the Brisbane International tournament on Friday. He would then go on to pull out of the Australian Open, announcing it through a tweet on Sunday.
“Hi all, during my last match in Brisbane I had a small problem on a muscle that as you know made me worried. Once I got to Melbourne, I have had the chance to make an MRI and I have micro tear on a muscle, not in the same part where I had the injury and that’s good news,” Nadal tweeted on Sunday.
While the 37-year-old has pulled out of the first Grand Slam, it is still expected that he will return in time for the French Open 2024. Nadal will be chasing a record 15th title, which might also be the final one of his career.