On 4 September 2015, Rafael Nadal was knocked out of yet another Grand Slam event, his final chance at winning one of the four prestigious events this year. The current World No. 8 squandered a two set lead against the erratic Italian, Fabio Fognini, the first time Nadal has done so at a Slam.
Although the Spaniard has faced some tough opponents, losing to Tomas Berdich and Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon, it is clear that his recent injury woes have taken their toll on him.
Nadal was unable to make it past the quarter-finals in any of the four events this year, and has not won a competition since he beat Fognini at the German tennis championships at the start of August 2015.
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The former World No. 1 has suffered several injuries in the past couple of injuries, ranging from back and ankle injuries to his most severe, the knee problems, originally perceived to be potentially career-threatening, that he encountered back in 2013. He originally made an astonishing comeback; a comeback believed to be one of the best in sport of that year, and any other year.
Having achieved a record of 65-4 after seven months out of the game, the Spaniard appeared to be back to his old self. However, he has since been riddled with more and more injury problems and woes.
Nadal has doubted himself
A constant re-occurrence of such injury issues will no doubt have a negative impact on any professional, even an individual as athletic, driven and focused as Nadal. Therefore, the question is: to what extent can sporting injuries effect professional, not just physically, but mentally?
At this year’s Australian Open, an event that has been a cruel mistress to Nadal in the past, the former champion spoke out about the affects of these injury woes.
The Spaniard was quoted by Tennis Now as saying: “Every time is different. Every feeling is different. Every time you come back, you have the doubts, you have the feeling that you are far away from your best.”
Having always been praised and idolised for his strength of mind, one cannot resist thinking that even a character such as Nadal could be affected by such perilous injuries.
Nadal’s confidence issues have also given opponents a ray of hope when the face up against him; where Nadal has crashed out of both the US Open and Wimbledon to players lower down in the rankings. It is true to say that nothing to lose mentality has really worked against him on the elite stage.
Injured athletes have been described to exhibit the same symptoms as trauma victims and will show “greater signs of anxiety, depression and lower self-esteem” as shown by Courtney Klenk’s, a sport psychologist, research paper on the psychological response to injury.
In a recent interview with Rollingstone.com, Nadal spoke of his struggles and stated his favourite moment at the Australian Open is his defeat to Novak Djokovic in the 2012 final in spectacular fashion, not his first title there.
Will the old Rafa ever return?
This statement shows just how much of an affect his injuries have had on him, where his first title in Australia, also his first hardcourt Slam title, is not his most memorable moment. We all know how much of a warrior Nadal is on the court, but even he will admit that these injuries will eventually get the better of him.
It has been revealed that the Spaniard has taken part in in a physiotherapy treatment known as PRP (Platalet-Rich Plasma) therapy which is where plasma is injected into the injured area and increasing hormone production and is said to have a good impact on recovery and the emotions of an athlete.
The controversial treatment, once banned by WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) in 2010, has also been used by other athletes such as Tiger Woods. Nadal’s use of the therapy shows he is willing to try anything that will improve his chances of returning to the top of the game.
The Spaniard has missed numerous Slams and has not featured in an ATP World Tour Finals event since 2013, however, having made many comebacks from injury Nadal has proven that you can never right him.
Whenever the Spanish warrior is injured, we are caught asking the same question: Will he be able to recover from this one? Don’t be surprised if he manages to produce another rise to the top.
The top five is never truly complete without Rafa in and amongst them, and you can be sure that he will be come back fighting.