What Rafa Nadal did in the final match of the Australian Open against Daniil Medvedev is not even a feat. This is akin to cosmic-level heroism and overcoming the kind that ordinary people never dreamed of. A few months ago, he seriously considered retiring from tennis, and now he is celebrating a record 21st Slam title. However, in his own words, he does not have the strength to celebrate. We tell the story of Rafael Nadal’s pain, thanks to which he became who he is. Great.
2003 Rafa is only 17 years old, but he has already entered the top hundred of the ATP rankings, began to win individual matches and was supposed to make his debut at Roland Garros, the tournament of which he would later become the king. But one of the very first injuries happened – in training, he injured his elbow. That French Open Nadal missed to return a month later at Wimbledon and enchantingly reach the third round.
In 2004, he missed Roland Garros again due to an ankle injury. He will get to Rafa’s favorite tournament in the future only a year later. The debut was a success – Rafael Nadal wins his first Grand Slam title. But it was in 2005 that he would be overtaken by the same foot injury, due to the recurrence of which he missed half of last season and was ready to finish the sport.
Then the doctors said that it was congenital: “I was 19 years old, I won my first title at Roland Garros, but immediately after that, the doctors said that a congenital foot injury would not allow me to play further. I was in so much pain that I had to train while sitting on a chair. I was saved by the insole, which changed the position of the foot. However, this caused inflammation of the knees. However, I overcame all difficulties thanks to a positive attitude. I turned the fragility of my body into mental strength. Sooner or later everything will turn out, you have to be ready to overcome obstacles. There is no other way out.”
Nadal was diagnosed with “Keller’s disease” (non-inflammatory, non-infectious bone growth disorders in the ossification zone of the navicular bone of the tarsus, children and adolescents, usually boys, are susceptible to them), and constant physical activity led to deformation of the bone, it became larger than it should be, and susceptible to microfractures.
The insoles and special shoes helped, but the pain still returned. And Rafa missed the 2006 Australian Open, which was then won by Roger Federer. But the Spaniard was not only worried about his legs. Also in 2006, he was forced to withdraw from the quarter-finals of the Royal Club tournament (the oldest English tournament, always precedes Wimbledon) against Lleyton Hewitt due to shoulder pain.
Later, he was forced to withdraw from tournaments in both 2007 and 2008 due to the same knee problems that were the result of using special insoles for foot pain.
In 2009, the blow was strong: hamstring troubles began on both legs, and he lost to Robin Soderling in the fourth round of Roland Garros in the fourth round, and then left for treatment right up to August, where he received micro-tears in the abdominal muscles at the US Open. But not only because of injuries, the season was difficult for him: “The divorce of my parents became a very serious test for me. I didn’t play well at Roland Garros, I couldn’t play at Wimbledon, and everything became very difficult. In just one month, the world has turned upside down.”
Rafa’s knees also tormented him in 2010, when he starred in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open against Andy Murray. In 2011, he was out for several months due to a hip injury, in 2012, in the second round of Wimbledon, he sensationally lost to Lukas Rosol, who occupied the 100th position in the ranking, which was his worst performance in the majors in the last seven years.
All the while, Rafa has been trying innovative treatments that sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t. In his autobiography, published in 2011, Rafa said that he repeatedly thought about quitting tennis and playing golf. Nadal, by the way, has long loved golf and regularly participates in professional tournaments during the breaks he takes in the tennis Tour.
A stomach infection, back injuries (and again, by the way, at the Australian Open) – all this again prevents Rafa from winning another title. “That hour and a half against Stan Wawrinka was the worst of my career due to pain,” he said after the 2014 Australian Open.
In the next two years, more wrist injuries were added. And so every year: then the back, then the thigh, then the knees …
And while he was able to rest and not overwork himself for part of 2020 due to the pandemic, in 2021 his knee problems worsened. After losing a match to Djokovic at Roland Garros, he missed part of the season, tried to return to Washington, but failed. For the first time we really saw Rafael Nadal only at the Australian Open-2022. But what did you see!
Sports psychologist Patricia Ramirez once said: “Nadal enjoys the profession, he is passionate, he constantly surpasses himself, pushes his own limits, pushes his boundaries and challenges himself. This is a very strong message that makes you act. It doesn’t have a “ceiling”. Everything that he has achieved so far only strengthens his talent, but does not stop him. And his injuries, each of his injuries proved to him that when he comes back, he becomes even stronger. Life has taught him to accept that he can get injured and be forced to go through a recovery period, but when he returns, his talent, his hard work and winning mentality will allow him to become number one again and win tournaments just like he did before. .
Judging by the extravaganza that Nadal gave out on Sunday on the courts of Melbourne, everything said is absolutely true.