“I am very sad to announce that I am not ready to play the US Open in NY. Thanks to my fans for their support and specially, the new yorkers” – with these words, shared via his Twitter account, King of Clay Rafael Nadal announced to disappointed tennis fans across the globe that he would not be competing in the last Grand Slam of the year, immediately raising questions in the tennis world about his future on court.
Having not been seen in a competitive match since his disappointing second round Wimbledon loss to Lukas Rosal on 28th June, Nadal’s ongoing struggle with knee tendonitis has forced him to withdraw from some of the biggest events in the tennis calendar this year. Because of the injury he was rendered unable to play at the London Olympic Games, where he also had to withdraw from carrying the Spanish flag in the opening ceremony, and since then the former world number 1 has been noticeably absent from such prestigious tournaments as the Rogers Cup and the Western & Southern Open hard court warm up.
Only 26 years old, although with a career record of a player twice his age, the 11-time Grand Slam champion has been plagued by knee troubles since the 2009 tennis season. After falling badly in a match during that year’s French Open tournament, the Spaniard had a rough time throughout the rest of the 2009 events and missed the chance to defend his Wimbledon title. Although seemingly recovered from the injury by the time he won the 2010 Roland Garros to start a run of three consecutive major title wins, the knee problem came back with a vengeance after Nadal’s stunning seventh Roland Garros title win earlier in the 2012 season.
A superb athlete and an exciting player to watch, Nadal is an aggressive hard-hitter who gives his all in every match he plays, even if it is detrimental to his health. In contrast to a more methodical player like 31 year-old Roger Federer, who hasn’t missed a Grand Slam event since 2000, it’s easy to see why the differences in playing styles have led some tennis insiders to question whether Nadal has much of a future left on court. A born tennis professional with an undeniable talent and passion for the sport we’re bound to see Rafa competing again as soon as his health allows, but for just how long remains unclear.