Doesn't it seem like every time World No. 3 Rafael Nadal has some sort of press release, his medical issues get worse? He's gone from having a recurrence of tendonitis in his right knee to inflammation of the fat pad in his knee to now having a partially torn patellar tendon in the span of a few months. It's quite conceivable that he knew about the tendon tear all along and is only now telling us this news. It's still disturbing for this sort of injury to happen to one of the world's greatest tennis players because it makes us all wonder how much shortened his great tennis career will be ultimately because of his chronic knee issues.
It's quite possible that the partially torn patellar tendon was the issue all along. Chronic patellar tendonitis could conceivably be a precursor to tearing the patellar tendon because of all the inflammation weakening the tendon. It's the tissue that connects the kneecap to the tibia and is critical for running and jumping activities. When Nadal says that he is glad that he avoided surgery, I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. We won't know until he plays injury-free for the next year or two. It could be that the patellar tendon simply had a small tear and that rest would heal it and the tendonitis. However, if the diagnosis was missed early on and by the time they recognized it, surgery wouldn't be as effective, then that tendon may never be as strong as it could have been. He could be constantly prone to injuring it over and over for the rest of his (probably shortened) career.
We simply have to trust Nadal and his team that the issue is being treated appropriately. Nadal says he will be back in two months, but what that simply means is that he will be back to being able to practice fully at that point. There's no way I'd let him play competitively in 2012. He should do everything possible to give himself enough time to heal and rehab that knee before the 2013 season starts.
It will be interesting to see if this combination of injuries changes his approach to training or the way he plays the game going forward. He clearly needs to make some changes to what he is doing to better protect his knees. He missed significant time in 2009 and here we are three years later with an even worse issue. He clearly needs to change something. An ATP tour without Nadal is simply less interesting and fun.
Julie is a featured tennis contributor for the Yahoo Contributor Network. She has been disappointed that Nadal has missed so many important events in what was supposed to be a great 2012 for him. However, as someone who deals with her own chronic knee issues, she understands how sometimes they will flare no matter how careful you are.