Saturday, July 2, 2022

French Open champion Nadal’s future uncertain due to leg pain

PARIS ( Associated Press) — Rafael Nadal’s painful left leg was numbed by multiple injections into two nerves during the French Open, the only way he has found to deal with a chronic condition, he admits is his tennis future. puts it in doubt.

In any other tournament, Nadal said, he would not have sustained through “extreme conditions” like this.

Ah, but the five simple words he uttered a minute on the court on Sunday after stitching together the last 11 games of a 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 win over an overwhelmed Casper Roode in an interesting final. Philippe Chattier explained Nadal’s mindset: “Roland Garros is Roland Garros.”

And so even though Nadal, the 14th-time French Open champion at age 36, is clearly different from Nadal, who was the first French Open champion in 2005 at the age of 19, his wish was to be fulfilled. All, no matter what, to “find a solution” – one of his frequently used phrases – remains the same.

He is the oldest champion in the history of a tournament that began in 1925, and his hair is getting thinner on the top. Unlike her biceps-baring look from nearly two decades ago, the chartreuse T-shirt she wore on Sunday had sleeves. White capri pants that ran below her knees back in the day were traded for longer-than-standard shorts; Sundays were turquoise.

Here’s what hasn’t changed on the way to his 22 Grand Slam titles, another record, apart from his focus on in-between behavior and near-perfect placement of water bottles and towels: He’s a topspin- The lefty uppercut of the slathered, high-bouncy forehand still finds itself missing the mark more often than not, confusing enemies. The ability to read and back them with a purpose still stings. This never-ending attitude appears impassable as Nadal moves back and forth, back and forth, accelerating and redirecting balls from the opponent’s racket.

Nadal is nothing if not relentless, like he was in more than four consecutive hours of victory earlier in the tournament – which included Novak Djokovic, the defending champion and No. 1 seed – and then this afternoon, even Competing on one leg, devoid of any emotion.

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“When you’re playing defensively against Rafa on clay,” said 23-year-old Norwegian Rood, who was competing in his first major final, “he’ll eat you alive.”

Nadal said that he would later try other ways to help his leg – even, “a way to burn, a bit, a nerve” – ​​to see if that would allow him to enter Wimbledon. where he has won his two men’s-record 22 Grand Slam titles. The game will start from June 27 at the All England Club.

If these new treatments don’t work, Nadal said, he’ll need to consider what he calls major surgery — and ultimately, “decisions about what the next step is in my future.”

“It’s clear that in the conditions I’m playing in, I can’t and I don’t want to move on,” Nadal said.

During the trophy ceremony, Nadal thanked his family and support team, including a doctor who accompanied him to Paris, because otherwise he would have “needed to retire much earlier.”

“I don’t know what the future holds,” Nadal told the crowd, “but I’ll keep fighting to try to move forward.”

He played so crisply and cleanly on Sunday, accumulating more than twice as many winners as Roode, 37 to 16. Nadal also made fewer unforced errors, scoring just 16 off Roode’s 26. After trailing 3-1 in the second set, Nadal didn’t give up. another game.

“After that moment,” Nadal said, “everything became very smooth.”

sure did.

View from the other side of the net?

“I am one more of the victims,” ​​said Rood, “that he has destroyed this court.”

One of the most indelible memories Roode will take away from this day was to recite the long list of years that Nadal previously won the French Open: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017 , 2018, 2019 and 2020.

“Never stops, it seems,” said Rood. “It takes half a minute.”

When players meet at the net for a prematch coin toss, “Ra-fa! Ra-fa!” Resonated in the 15,000-seat stadium. Rudd would later hear people in the stands pronounce his last name, so it sounded like they were booing.

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Nadal is 14-0 in the final at Roland Garros, 112-3 on aggregate. When it ended with Nadal’s down-the-line backhand, he affixed his racket to the red clay he loves so much and covered his face with taped fingers on both of his hands.

No man or woman has won a singles trophy in any of the major events in Paris in more than their 14 years. And no person has won more Grand Slam titles than Nadal.

He is two ahead of Roger Federer, who hasn’t played in nearly a year after a series of knee operations, and Djokovic, who missed the Australian Open in January because he was not vaccinated against COVID-19.

With everything he’s already accomplished, Nadal has now done something he’s never been able to do before: he’s halfway to a calendar-year Grand Slam, with titles at the Australian Open and French Open in the same season. Thank You for.

But if he can’t play at Wimbledon, which he’s won twice, it doesn’t really matter much.

Ruud considers Nadal as his role model. He remembers watching all of Nadal’s previous finals in Paris on TV. He has trained at Nadal’s Tennis Academy in Mallorca.

They have played countless practice sets together with nothing more than bragging rights. Nadal usually won those, and Rudd joked the other day because he was trying to be a polite guest.

The two had never met in an actual match until Sunday, when a championship, money, ranking points, prestige and a piece of history were on the line. And Nadal demonstrated, as he often has, why he is known as the King of Clay – and one of the sport’s greatest.

“It’s something I just couldn’t believe – coming here at 36, being competitive again, playing the most favorite court of my career, playing the finals once again,” Nadal said. “It means a lot to me. It means everything.”


More Associated Press Tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Nation World News Desk
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