Toni Nadal, Rafael Nadal's coach and uncle, is speaking out about Rafa's lingering foot injury. The World No. 2 recently discussed his injury to Spanish newspaper El Pais saying, "Ever since my foot injury in 205 (sic), I am very careful and I avoid running. And that shows. I need to get my physical form as I play matches, and it’s hard because I don't have a good foundation." He even revealed that he won his most recent French Open crown with what he described (and was translated) as "a numbed, anesthetized foot."
Now Uncle Toni has publicly confirmed his nephew's injury. Speaking to Spanish daily Diario de Mallorca, Toni said,"He's been affected by an injury to his foot since 2005. He has to learn how to live with it and so far he has managed for two years." He refused, however, to discuss the seriousness of the ailment saying, "I prefer not to answer. It's very serious. I don't know [if it's career-threatening]. I'll let the doctor reply to that. He has to take a lot of precautions when he plays."
At the tender age of 21, what chance does Rafa have of having a long, illustrious career? Certainly, he can continue to grind his way to another clay-court crown, but this news does not bode well for his chances of winning titles on the many, many hard surfaces featured throughout the rest of the tennis season. What major adjustments will the Spaniard need to make in his game to save his career?
UPDATE: According to Sporting Life, Rafael Nadal was interviewed on Spanish state TV Wednesday night and refuted Uncle Toni's claims that the injury is "very serious". Rafa was quoted as saying, "This injury hasn't stopped me competing at the top level for over two years, [...] "The story that has come out is totally false."
(images via TheAge and Viewimages)