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Gallery by Ella Ling - Nadal

This is the most disruptive injury of Nadal's career

   

Five thoughts on Rafa Nadal’s withdrawal from the US Open:
 
While this isn’t the first time that Nadal’s knees have screamed at him to rest, it now looks like the most disruptive/concerning/alarming injury break of Nadal’s career. So today’s announcement, while not at all surprising, will start off new concern and hysteria about Nadal’s long-term health and prospects. Because of the pain in his knees, Nadal has had to pass on the opportunity to walk Spain’s flag into the Opening Ceremony of the London Games, plus the chance to try to retain his Olympic title, and now competing at the final slam of the year. Prior to this summer, Nadal has only ever had to miss one slam because of his knees, which was when he withdrew from the 2009 Wimbledon Championships (though he didn’t play at the 2006 Australian Open, that was because of a foot problem, not his knees). Never before has Nadal had to miss two big tournaments in the same year, and now a couple have just been wiped off his diary. 
 
There have been times over the past few years when people have wondered whether Nadal would ever be the same again – it is to be hoped that this concern over his health will again amount to nothing. 
 
There is now some doubt over whether we will see Nadal again before 2013. After the US Open, it’s the indoor season, and Nadal has never played his best tennis when he’s cooped up, under lights and the air-conditioning’s humming. He needs sunshine. Will his next competitive tennis come in Doha in January?
 
While this news makes you further reassess his defeat to Lukas Rosol in the second round at Wimbledon – with hindsight, Nadal’s defeat was not the greatest shock that tennis has ever seen – it also makes you think again about his victory at the French Open. Nadal has never been as emotional after winning a slam as he was after defeating Novak Djokovic in the final in Paris. It was a result which prevented Djokovic from becoming the first man since the 1960s to hold all four slams at the same time, and which stopped Nadal from becoming the first player in history to lose four consecutive major finals. But was he even more emotional because trouble was already flaring in his knees? When Nadal first bounded on to the world stage, everyone spoke of his biceps. But it’s Nadal’s legs, not his arms, which have come to define his tennis life. 
 
Roger Federer said the other day that he would write to Nadal, an indication of the respect between the two – and doubtless Djokovic and Andy Murray will also make contact.