STARNBERG, August 24, 2021 (by Alex Jack)
Rafael Nadal has been suffering from a chronic problem in his left foot since 2005 and it seems it has finally caught up with him, these 16 years later. Indeed, the Spaniard will play no further part in the 2021 season after announcing that he intends to only return to competitive action in 2022.
Some may call it a drastic decision, given that Nadal is 35 years old and doesn’t really have the luxury of time on his hands, whilst others may call it long overdue, considering the severity of the debilitating pain he’s been in.
This decision opens the door for Novak Djokovic to win his 21st Grand Slam in New York. Undoubtedly, this is a scenario that adds insult to injury and is an eventuality that Nadal fans have been dreading for some time now. The latest US Open odds have the Serb as low as 8/11 to become the first man to reach the milestone of 21 Grand Slams, which will be a bitter pill to swallow for the millions of Nadal supporters. Of course, it’s not a foregone conclusion that Djokovic will succeed, but anyone looking at the most up-to-date US Open betting tips will see that there’s a very strong possibility that the 34-year-old does, in fact, go all the way in New York.
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) June 28, 2021
Should he take the lead in the quest to win the greatest number of Grand Slams in the men’s game, then the question has to be whether Nadal will be able to haul him back in during the playing of the 2022 Grand Slams. This entirely depends on how much he’s able to recover from his foot injury now that he’s announced that he’s skipping the rest of the season in a bid to find some relief.
Nadal’s exact diagnosis is Müller-Weiss Syndrome. In layman’s terms, it’s when one of the bones in the middle of the foot, that’s crucial for mobility, becomes deformed. Looking back, you can see why this would have hampered Nadal’s performance during his semi-final loss to Djokovic at Roland-Garros. Indeed, it was Nadal’s shock exit at the French Open that seemed to indicate that Djokovic had been able to stop the Spaniard’s dominance on clay, but when you consider how restricted Nadal’s movement would have been on the night, it’s extraordinary that he was even able to take the match to four sets.
This fighting spirit suggests that there’s life in Nadal yet, but only if he can find some sort of respite from this issue. The concern, however, is that mere rest won’t help him make a full recovery and that the solution instead lies on the surgeon’s table.
— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) October 12, 2020
Naturally, opting for the latter will see the Spaniard sidelined for a far lengthier spell, and as mentioned earlier, time isn’t a luxury for Nadal when it comes to rehabilitation from injury.
All things considered, it’s entirely possible that we won’t see a fully fit Nadal ever again, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t hoist another Grand Slam trophy aloft before he retires.