First and foremost: How seriously did Nadal hurt his hip when he lost to 65th-ranked Mackenzie McDonald in the second round of the Australian Open on Wednesday, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5? Did a muscle, joint, or cartilage sustain damage?
What will it take to recover? When might Nadal be allowed back on the ATP Tour? It’s not like this is the first time that Rafael Nadal’s body has lied to him. So much is known.
What comes next is something that no one knows, not even the 22-time Grand Slam champion himself.
First and foremost: How seriously did Nadal hurt his hip when he lost to 65th-ranked Mackenzie McDonald in the second round of the Australian Open on Wednesday, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5?
Did a muscle, joint, or cartilage sustain damage? What will it take to recover? When might Nadal be allowed back on the ATP Tour?
He will attempt to determine some of the answers by undergoing medical examinations. Perhaps the most important question of all is what cannot be determined by a doctor or an MRI.
How much more of this kind is he willing to tolerate? After his first exit from a major tournament in seven years, Nadal stated, “But that’s not easy, without a doubt,” adding, “I think I am ready to keep doing (it)”
People will naturally be curious about what this all means for his future, especially given that Serena Williams and Roger Federer have both retired.
In 4 1/2 months, Nadal will turn 37. His punishing style of playing every point as if it were the last one is undeniable wear and tear. Perhaps the mental toll of the work required to compete at the level to which he has become accustomed is also present.
It can be frustrating at times. Accepting it can be difficult at times, “a dejected Nadal stated. When it comes to injuries, you sometimes feel extremely exhausted.
He has struggled with damaged rib cartilage, chronic pain in his left foot that was alleviated by nerve-numbing injections during his French Open title run, and a torn abdominal muscle that forced him to withdraw from Wimbledon over the past year alone.
It’s a trying time. He stated, “It’s a difficult day.” I would be lying if I said that I am not mentally destroyed right now.
Wednesday, Nadal said, he couldn’t hit a backhand or run much because his left hip was so bad. He considered giving up, but he continued because he was the champion.
Additionally, Nadal is ranked No. 1 at Melbourne Park, as the highest-ranked player Carlos Alcaraz is out with a leg injury.
A side note, The total absences are staggering for a variety of reasons: Naomi Osaka, Ash Barty, Simona Halep, Venus Williams, and Nick Kyrgios.)
McDonald, a 27-year-old American who won NCAA singles and doubles titles for UCLA in 2016 and lost to Nadal nearly two and a half years ago, won only four games.
After the biggest victory of his career on Wednesday, McDonald said that his feelings were “a little more flat and stale than I thought they would be.” Why? “ because of the circumstances, McDonald stated. This was not Nadal at his most powerful.
Since losing to Frances Tiafoe in the fourth round of the U.S. Open in September, he has won two of his last nine matches. “I absolutely believed it to be an opportunity… McDonald commented, “He seems to be moving slowly.”
Look, he’s making an effort. I mean, he’s a formidable opponent. He is attempting to make the most of his opportunities. Here, he’s almost 37 years old. I’m confident that his body has changed.
The best time, in my opinion, is right now to play him. In light of the fact that so much is still unknown, Nadal provided some insight when he was asked what drives him to keep returning from injuries.
“It’s very straightforward: My work excites me. Tennis is a sport I enjoy. I know it won’t last forever. Nadal stated, “I like to fight for things that I have been fighting for almost half of my life, if not more.”
At the end of the day, doing the things you enjoy is not a sacrifice. You are carrying out your desired actions.