Tennis Prose



Nadal’s Injury


Controversy continues at the AO

By J.Belcourt

Melbourne, Australia – Controversy continued at the Australian Open following the shock exit of world no.1 Rafael Nadal in his quarter-final matchup against world no6. Marin Cilic. In what can only be described as ‘unfortunate’ circumstances, the Spaniard dramatically announced his retirement citing a leg injury in the fifth set decider whilst trailing 3-6,6-3,6-7,6-2,0-2.

Prior to this point, Nadal had won the first and third sets but had taken a medical time out in the fourth set when faced 1-4 down. When questioned about the injury onset, the 31 year was surprisingly vague in his answer and only recalls experiencing fatigue in the lead-up. He explained “I am very sorry but I really cannot remember now. Start to feel the muscle little bit tired in the third, but playing normal, no limits, no limitation. Then in the fourth at one movement, one drop-shot I think, I felt something, but I didn’t realize how bad, how bad was what’s going on in that moment.”

Details did not get any clearer when probed about the nature and severity of his injury as the post-match interview progressed. There was even an awkward eerie feeling as the world no.1 looked nervously into the camera and across the room. “Is difficult to know exactly what it is now. Is difficult to know exactly the muscle. Just happened minutes ago. This type of injury is difficult to know immediately, no?”

The vagueness continued. When asked if it was his knee or hip, Nadal responded “I don’t know. No hip. No hip”. He went on to say “I can’t tell you exactly the muscle. It’s here high… But I don’t want to lie. Tomorrow we are going to communicate what’s going on after the MRI” (The MRI later showed a “grade one injury of his Illiopsoas on his right leg” requiring 3-4 weeks rest). Strangely, he added “now is not the moment because anything that we can say (is) not going to be true”.

One has to wonder what he meant by this. So whilst we may never know the true extent of the problem or its actual impact on his game that night, one thing is for sure – Cilic was playing brilliantly. As Cilic went up 2-0 up in the 5th set decider, having won the previous 4 games straight, Nadal was backed firmly into a corner. And that’s when the hobbles and grunts from the world no.1 decisively got worse before whimpering to the net to call it quits. Respectfully, Nadal did pay credit when credit is due acknowledging the world no.6 was “serving well, hitting strong from
the baseline, returning so well. Yeah he was playing very aggressive.”

Nadal was not alone in his praise of the Croatian, with the great Swiss maestro Roger Federer, sharing his thoughts following his decisive win over Thomas Berdych 7-6,6-3,6-4 in their quarter-final clash. Federer said “It’s hard to watch you know. Someone going out in five sets and not being able to finish. At least if somebody finishes and he loses, all credit to the other guy. Still I think Marin deserves an amazing amount of credit because he hung around and he fought really really hard. And I don’t think he had ever beaten Rafa before, (sorry) he beat him once… But still, it was a massive win for him.”

Clearly elated with the result, Cilic expressed his satisfaction at his ability to hold strong throughout the match, despite the on-court commotion across the other side. “My focus and my mindset was to take care of my own part of the court, to think about my own game, without having distractions from Rafa,” Cilic shared. “Extremely pleased with my own game. Even in these other matches before this one, I played great tennis. Very, very high level… I was always in that process where I want to keep going with my own game and try to lift up, lift up, keep pushing as much as I can. So extremely pleased with the performance.”

And whilst Cilic looks forward to his next semi-finals matchup en-route to his first Australian Open title, where he will face a first time semi-finalist in Britain’s Kyle Edmund, controversy continued with Nadals final post-match remarks. This time, taking aim at the tour organizers, the 14 time grand slam champion let-off some stream surely to rile a few feathers.

“Somebody who is running the tour should think little bit about what’s going on. Too many people getting injured. I don’t if they have to think a little bit about the health of the players. Not for now that we are playing, but there is life after tennis. I don’t know if we keep playing in this very, very hard surfaces what’s going to happen in the future with our lives,” the Spaniard said with a hit of agitation in his voice.
So, is the health of players being compromised due to the conditions they are expected to play? Are we asking too much of them? Are we “burning” all the top players out? This question has been asked by the likes of former world no.1 Novak Djokovic, who was subjected to play in sweltering conditions and suffered a flared up elbow injury in his Australian Open comeback.

In the end, I guess time will show if we will see these great players back as champions again. Til then, we wish both Nadal and Djokovic a speedy recovery.

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  • Scoop Malinowski · January 25, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    Just did not see any clear, concrete evidence of any injury. What we saw was Cilic Soderlinging Rafa all over the court with his firepower and accuracy. Rafa got Soderlinged.

  • thompson · January 25, 2018 at 9:58 pm

    Of course Cilic looked good hitting shots against a clearly debilitated opponent who couldn’t run. And what is mysterious about not having details of what the injury is 20 minutes after the match and before he had been checked out by a doctor? The next day, after he had been duly examined and had proper medical tests, Nadal and his team were completely open and honest with the press about what the problem is. Why do some people try to create a controversy and whip up some crazy conspiracy theory over a completely innocent occurrence.



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