It was uncertain for a long time whether Rafael Nadal would compete in Wimbledon. The Spanish tennis star suffers from a chronic foot disease and needs injections to keep him fit for tournaments. Nevertheless, he wants to expand his unbelievable winning streak. How long is this good?
For a long time it was not certain whether Rafael Nadal would even play in Wimbledon. Eventually, the doctors fixed the injured left foot and Nadal announced at a press conference before the first game on the London lawn: “I can walk normally almost every day, that’s the main thing for me. When I wake up, I don’t have this pain anymore as in the past year and a half.” The treatment alleviated the suffering for the moment, but the injury remains.
The miracle cure was in the form of radio wave therapy, which the most successful player of all time underwent in Barcelona, according to media reports. Apparently, the affected nerve is so numb that it no longer sends signals to the brain. Nadal can currently play. How long Nadal’s body will continue to function in this state is another question.
Müller-Weiss syndrome has plagued Rafael Nadal for a long time
Since 2005, Nadal has allegedly suffered from the very rare Müller-Weiss syndrome, a so-called osteonecrosis of the scaphoid in the foot. The tissue in the bone that is part of the tarsus dies. Not only is this painful, it can seriously impair mobility. The cause of the disease is unknown.
Only special shoe inserts and countless treatments allowed Nadal to continue his career – with more or less chronic pain, they say. How badly the damaged scaphoid actually affected the Spaniard over the past 17 years can hardly be said. Only one thing is certain: his condition has worsened drastically over the past year and a half. In the second half of 2021, Nadal sat out completely.
He made an impressive comeback at the Australian Open earlier this year. He won his 21st Grand Slam title, becoming the sole record holder ahead of his great rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. In the spring in Paris he was only able to play because he was injected fit, but he still won his favorite tournament: “I don’t want to talk about how many injections I got, but yes, before every game it took a few to numb the nerve “Nadal said afterwards. And before Wimbledon, radio wave therapy was used.
After his four-set win against the Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis (6: 4, 6: 4, 4: 6, 6: 3), Nadal is in the third round of the most important tournament in the world. With his victory at the French Open three weeks ago, he became the most successful tennis player of all time. The Mallorcan now wants to win his 23rd Grand Slam title in Wimbledon. His last big goal would then still be the triumph in New York. Then he would have won all four big tournaments in one season and made the real Grand Slam. The last man to do that was Rod Laver in 1969.
Its success depends on the skill of the doctors
Whether Nadal succeeds in the historic triumph depends largely on the art of the doctors. But there are also doubts as to whether Nadal actually suffers from Müller-Weiss syndrome. The “Süddeutsche Zeitung” quotes doctors who are surprised that Nadal can put such a strain on his foot with such a diagnosis. The final in Melbourne against tennis number one, Russia’s Daniil Medvedev, lasted almost five and a half hours. The quarterfinals at the French Open against Novak Djokovic lasted over four hours.
Paris in general: With Felix Auger-Aliassime, Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev and Casper Ruud, Nadal knocked out four top ten players, even if the victory against Zverev was due to the German’s injury. More stress is hardly possible. Hartmut Gaulrapp, orthopedist from Munich with a focus on sports injuries and foot surgery, says in the “Süddeutsche”: “I can hardly imagine that he has structural damage in his bones if he repeatedly exposes himself to this enormous strain as a top athlete.” And further: “In addition, the Müller-Weiss syndrome actually always occurs on both sides.”
With such a rare disease, expert opinions may differ and remote diagnosis should be viewed with a certain degree of skepticism. Nadal has survived numerous other injuries in his long career. He is, so to speak, an experienced man of sorrows who is driven by an irrepressible ambition. This season he can do the extraordinary. He will keep going until his body won’t allow it anymore.
Sources: NDR, “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, “tennissport.com”