Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Rafael Nadal has pulled out of the upcoming Masters 1000 tournaments at Toronto and Cincinnati with a right wrist injury. In a statement published by The New York Times, the 14-time Grand Slammer flew to Spain to have an MRI done, and based on his doctor's recommendations, will have to "be out of competition for at least 2-3 weeks." The timing puts his participation at the U.S. Open in jeopardy. During last year's North American hard-court swing, he went 17-0, including winning his second title at Flushing Meadows over Novak Djokovic.
Injuries are as common as clay-court titles for Rafa. Earlier this season, he was hindered by a back injury during his loss to Stan Wawrinka in the Australian Open final. And, of course, his knees have been a constant issue over his entire career. While the wrist hasn't been a recurring problem for Rafa, it's becoming one for the sport, with Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin del Potro, Laura Robson, and now Rafa, dealing with injuries recently.
So, what about the Spaniard's chances of making the U.S. Open? Based on the carefully worded statement Team Nadal put out, it's a big question. They said "at least 2-3 weeks" away from the tour which means it could be longer depending on his recovery. According to the statement, his return is "initially scheduled for the U.S. Open" but it all depends on how the wrist recovers, doctor's recommendations, and another MRI. They certainly left it open.
The U.S. Open begins in about three-and-a-half weeks. Even if he decided to play, Rafa would certainly be lacking in match play. If it heals quickly, he could theoretically take a wild card into Winston-Salem the week before the Open starts to try to get in some matches. I don't see that happening, though. The more likely scenario, if he plays, would be for the defending champion to try and work his way into match shape. If Rafa can get through his early matches, he'll be able to find his rhythm, feel more confident his game going forward, and be with colm - a winning recipe for the Spaniard.
There's no doubt Team Nadal is doing everything they can to get him fit in time for the year's final major. One other thing is for sure; if Rafa is given the go ahead to play, he will leave it all on the line. No question about it.
[Photo(s) credit: Getty Images]