Rafael Nadal at the 2015 Paris Masters
Rafael Nadal’s chronic foot injury flared up again at Roland Garros in June, which ended up derailing his entire season. Nadal subsequently withdrew from Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics, before a pain-ridden run in Washington forced him to pack it in for the rest of the year.
The 35-year-old began his rehabilitation from the injury last month, after having undergone a minor procedure on his foot. But he is back to training now, and videos of him on the practice court have started doing the rounds of social media.
Rafael Nadal has been out of competitive action since August, and last month he was even spotted on crutches. But the latest images and clips of the 20-time Grand Slam champion in training suggest that his preparations for the 2022 season have kicked off in earnest.
When he arrives in Melbourne next year for the Australian Open, Rafael Nadal will be looking to break the all-time record for most Grand Slam titles. The Spaniard is currently tied with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer at 20 Majors each.
The 35-year-old will also be looking to reclaim his throne at the French Open in 2022. Nadal was defeated by Djokovic in the semifinals at Paris this year, and it is unclear how much his foot injury affected him in that match.
Despite his decent run on clay this year, where he won the titles in Barcelona and Rome, the Roland Garros loss was arguably the biggest talking point of Nadal’s season. It was just his third career defeat in Paris, and it came at a time when he was considered almost guaranteed to break the Slam record.
The Spaniard’s recovery will undoubtedly be focused on resuming his claycourt dominance. Given his career record, Roland Garros is Nadal’s best shot of adding another Major to his tally next year.
Rafael Nadal suffers from a congenital birth defect in his foot
Rafael Nadal at the 2010 Western & Southern Open
Rafael Nadal was diagnosed with a congenital birth defect in his foot back in 2005, the same year he won his first Major (Roland Garros). The then 19-year-old was told at the time that the problem was untreatable, and that it was unlikely for him to play competitive tennis much longer.
Nadal and his team found a way to manage the problem, using a variety of adjustments and compromises. Working with a specialized team of orthopedics, the Spaniard has been playing with altered soles in his shoes.
That, however, has added pressure to Nadal’s knees, ankles and thighs over the years, adding to his injury toll.