Just how bad really are Rafael Nadal's knees? That's what fans are wondering after the World No. 3 has withdrawn from the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati that starts next week. This is the third tournament in a row that Nadal has pulled out of ever since announcing his knee tendinitis had flared again earlier this summer. First it was the Summer Olympics, then the Rogers Cup (Toronto Masters), and now the W&S Open (the Cincinnati Masters).
Will Nadal Even Play The U.S. Open?
The U.S. Open starts on August 27. Tennis fans need to brace themselves for the possibility that Nadal may eventually pull out of that tournament as well. Both the Toronto and Cincinnati Masters 1000 events will feature all of Nadal's top competition that he would be facing in New York at the end of the month. If Nadal is not ready to play these tournaments, would he risk further injury by pushing himself into a Grand Slam tournament that's even tougher on his questionable knees? He hadn't even played a hardcourt tournaments in months. Why jump into one where he has little chance to win now that his hardcourt game and health are not close to their best?
How Bad Are The Knees?
This knee issue of Nadal's can not be be overanalyzed enough. Tendinitis ruined much of his 2009 season. It's put a severe damper on the second half of his 2012 season. Every time he has another one of these relapses, the idea that Nadal's career is never going to be as long or as good as it otherwise would have been becomes more evident.
With this current relapse coming when it has, I wonder just how much Nadal's preparation for the 2012 season played a part in this. With his multitude of failures against Novak Djokovic last year, how hard did he work himself physically between the end of the 2011 season and the Australian Open? Then, after his loss in the final to Djokovic there, how much harder did he work himself before the clay court season started. Clearly the preparation worked because his dominant clay form returned once again. However, how much did he ultimately sacrifice physically to get to that point?
Count me as one of Nadal's fans who is extremely worried about his future. I love the way he plays. He's great for the game, and undoubtedly one of the game's all-time greats already. I want him to play many more years. I hope that this extended time away is simply to ensure that he is doing what he needs to do to get healthy.
Julie is a featured tennis contributor for the Yahoo Contributor Network. She has followed tennis her entire life and watches the sports throughout the very long season. Nadal is one of her favorite players.
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