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Nadal on his injured foot – Time to accept the situation and fight

Rafael Nadal suffered a disappointing injury setback on Thursday night in Rome, but the King of Clay is hopeful that he can battle through the issue ahead of Roland Garros.

Rafael Nadal 2022 Rome Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May 12, 2022 Spain’s Rafael Nadal leaves court after losing his third round match against Canada’s Denis Shapovalov || 230357_0121

Rafael Nadal’s fortunes took a turn for the worse on Thursday at the Foro Italico, the legendary Spaniard’s chronic left foot injury worsening in the heat of battle as he limped his way to a three-set loss to Canada’s Denis Shapovalov. But Nadal, long the master of finding his way back from difficult bouts with the injury bug, remains steadfast in his goal to compete at the top of his form at the French Open, which begins on May 22 in Paris.

“I still [have] a goal in one week and a couple of days,” Nadal told reporters immediately after his match. “I going to keep dreaming about that goal.”

I am not injured. I am a player living with an injury

The left foot was the culprit that caused Nadal to shut down his 2021 season last summer, and it caused much consternation inside of his camp. There were discussions about the way forward, and the recognition that maybe there was too much to overcome. But Nadal has overcome, and brilliantly, in 2022. He stormed out of the gates, winning the Australian Open and recording a career-best 20 wins on the trot to start the year.

After becoming the sports’ all-time men’s singles Grand Slam title holder with his triumph at Melbourne, the joy was palpable for Nadal and his legions of fans, but always there was the reality: that Nadal’s foot injury is chronic, that there will always be pain to a certain degree, and that it needs to be managed proactively.

“I am not injured,” Nadal stressed on Thursday. “I am a player living with an injury. That’s it. No, no, is nothing new. It’s something that is there.

“Unfortunately my day-by-day is difficult, honestly. Even like this, I am trying hard. Of course, it’s difficult for me to accept the situation sometimes, no? Yeah, can be frustrating that a lot of days I can’t practice the proper way. Then today at half the second set starts the [pain], then wasn’t playable for me.”

Foot has been problematic since Nadal returned from his rib injury

Nadal was rumored to have been limping last week at Madrid, after his miraculous comeback against David Goffin in the round of 16. Today in Rome it was far more obvious – Nadal was a shell of himself late in the match against Shapovalov.

He referred to the pain as “Sometimes more, sometimes less. Today was crazy. That’s it.”

Nadal also said that he has struggled with the foot since he made his return from the stress fracture to his rib, which was suffered during the semi-final with Carlos Alcaraz at Indian Wells in March.

“Since I came back, the foot have been tough, being honest, no?” Nadal said. “It’s tough for me to be able to practice the proper way days in a row. So then you need to move well to compete at the highest level, something that I am not able to practice. Then things becomes much more difficult.”

Nadal said the injury is rearing its head at a tough time, because he is finally dialing in his pulsating clay-court game, during the most important moments of his season.

“Negative thing and toughest thing for me today is honestly I start to feel myself play much better,” he said. “I started the match playing much better. My practice was much better, the warmup, than the other day. I feel sad about that, that I started to feel again a lot of positive things. But then when these kind of stuff happens, the rest of the things, the rest of the positive things disappears, no?”

Rafael Nadal pain Rome
AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Nadal – accept and keep going, even if it’s difficult

Nadal believes that things can turn around quickly for him, and he is holding out hope that he will start to feel better in practice as Roland Garros approaches.

“First thing that I need to do is to don’t have pain to practice, that’s it,” he said. “And the negative thing is today it’s not possible to play for me. But maybe in two days things are better, that’s the thing that I have on my foot.”

“I am not injured. I am a player living with an injury. That’s it. No, no, is nothing new.”

— Rafael Nadal

The Spaniard adds that the presence of his doctor will be of great assistance in Paris, and could help him manage pain more effectively.

“It’s true that during the French Open, Roland Garros, I going to have my doctor there with me,” he said. “That sometime helps because you can do things.”

Most important for Nadal is to keep a cool head, and to remain positive.

“In the positive days and in the negative days, you need to stay and to value all the things that happened to me in a positive way,” he said. “Then days like today, just accept and try to keep going even if sometimes it’s not easy for me.”

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