Rafael Nadal's participation in the ATP World Tour Finals at London's O2 Arena next month has been thrown into serious jeopardy with the news that he may require surgery on his appendix soon.
The Spaniard made a return to action just a fortnight ago at the China Open following a wrist injury which had kept him out since Wimbledon, but it proved to be short and not entirely sweet either.
After being knocked out in the quarter-finals in Beijing, to the lowly ranked Martin Klizan, Nadal then complained of discomfort due to appendicitis.
The former world no.1 decided to play through the pain at the Shanghai Masters the following week, but all was not well in his first match. Feliciano Lopez sent his compatriot packing in straight sets.
Nadal confirmed that he would require surgery, but initially hinted that he may delay going under the knife until after the season ended following the conclusion of the Finals.
However, the world No.3 may have to bring the surgery forward, depending on how he holds up at an indoor competition in Basle next week - an event where Roger Federer will be looking for a sixth title in his own backyard.
"Rafa is playing Basle and depending on how he feels and what the doctors say will decide then, after the tournament, on what’s best," a spokesman for the player has revealed.
Fans - not just Nadal's - will be left bitterly disappointed if the 14-time Grand Slam champion cannot compete in London, such is his star status in the sport. Rivalries with Novak Djokovic and Federer have become of huge-interest in what many people describe as tennis' golden generation.
Furthermore, for Nadal personally, missing the Finals would be a huge blow considering that it is one of the very few big events that he has never won.
The ATP like to put on a huge show for their flagship season-ending tournament in which only the top eight highest-ranked players from the calendar year get to compete. Since 2003, however, success has almost exclusively belonged to Federer and Djokovic, who have nine titles between them since then.
Only David Nalbandian and Nikolay Davydenko have broke the chain in the last 11 years.
If Nadal doesn't recover after Basle, it'll probably be the last time we see him in action until 2015. Perhaps it'll be a blessing in disguise though, as it'll give the Majorcan-born star plenty of time to rest and recuperate before he can attempt to make amends for defeat in the final of the Australian Open by Stanislas Wawrinka at the start of this season.
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