Nadal 'Positive In Terms Of Pain' Entering Wimbledon
Rafael Nadal last took the court for a competitive match three weeks ago, when he won his record-extending 22nd Grand Slam singles title and 14th Roland Garros crown. Now set to play Wimbledon for the first time in three years, the 36-year-old enters London halfway to a calendar-year Grand Slam for the first time in his career.
But in typical Nadal fashion, the Spaniard is focussing on the present. Fortunately for the second seed, the current situation is positive with regard to his chronic foot injury. After playing Roland Garros with his foot "asleep" as a result of frequent injections, Nadal underwent a new treatment to numb the problematic nerves in his foot for what he hopes is a more permanent solution.
"[I am] quite happy about how [it has] evolved," he told the press on Saturday ahead of his opening-round match against Francisco Cerundolo. "First of all, I can walk normal most of the days, almost every single day. That's for me the main issue. When I wake up, I don't have this pain that I was having for the last year and a half, so quite happy about that.
"And second thing, practising. I have been overall better, honestly. Since the last two weeks, I didn't have not one day of these terrible days that I can't move at all... The feeling and overall feelings are positive, because I am in a positive way in terms of pain, and that's the main thing."
Like at Roland Garros, Nadal made it clear that he would not discuss his injury during Wimbledon. But before his Tuesday opener, he answered several questions on the topic, admitting he cannot be sure how long the improvement will last.
"Of course, the treatment that I did didn't fix my injury, not improving my injury at all, but can take out a little bit the pain. That's the main goal," he said.
"Honestly, I feel happy because the toughest thing is when you have too much pain — not playing tennis," Nadal added. "Tennis is the second part of your life. Probably the toughest part is having pain on your life on a daily basis. If you don't have pain outside of the tennis, it's fine. Maybe you don't play tennis. But the problem that I have is I have pain walking every single day. That sometimes affects your happiness... and how the attitude is not positive all the time.
"That's all. Positive now. Let's see what can happen in the future."
Nadal was also asked to reflect on his stellar start to the 2022 season, which has seen him claim four trophies in six months, including the year's first two Grand Slams. But the Spaniard is not looking back.
"Past is past," he said. "Sport and life goes so quick. I am not a big fan of living on the things that you achieved because sport doesn't give you that time to keep thinking on the things that happened."
Despite the ongoing foot injury and a rib fracture that sidelined him for over a month following his run to the Indian Wells final, Nadal has compiled a 30-3 record in the season — a run of success that has surprised even him.
"I will never say a drama because drama are other things in life," he explained. "Without a doubt, we are only playing tennis. But in terms of daily suffering, it has been tough in terms of every day going on the court without knowing if I am going to be able to finish the practice the proper way or finish the match the proper way. That's tough to accept.
"But in general terms, it has been an amazing, positive six months in terms of tennis results. I enjoy it because it has been unexpected. But now is the moment to keep going, if I am able to be better with my body. Main thing for me is keep enjoying my daily work and my day-by-day playing tennis."
Nadal's path to a third Wimbledon title could go through sixth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime — whom he battled in a five-set Roland Garros fourth round — or Eastbourne champion Taylor Fritz in the quarter-finals, with fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and 2021 Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini potential semi-final opponents.