Rafael Nadal’s doctor, Angel Ruiz-Cotorro, admits his star patient’s ability to defy injury “would be a miracle for any normal person”.
Nadal has twice defied a chronic foot problem in 2022 to win the Australian Open and then the French Open, while he also suffered a stress fracture in his rib prior to Roland-Garros.
As he pursued a record-extending 14th title in Paris, whispers spread that he was set to retire after the tournament. Instead, after winning his 22nd Grand Slam with an "asleep" left foot, he vowed to “keep fighting” and laid out his ambitions to play at Wimbledon and the US Open.
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He underwent treatment on the affected nerves in his foot on Tuesday, with the Spaniard’s medical team hoping he can return to the court as early as this weekend. He is recovering in Mallorca and was spotted on crutches getting out of a car on Wednesday.
“The objective is that this does not last any longer and that he can play Wimbledon," Ruiz-Cotorro told El Partidazo de Cope in Spain.
Nadal admitted to Eurosport in Melbourne that he had doubts “every single day” about whether he could play again as he battled persistent injury.
But his latest major title in the French capital on Sunday saw him move two clear of long-term rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in the all-time race – leaving him in pole position to retire with the most Slams in the men’s game.
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“It seems to me a spectacular thing, it would be a miracle for any normal person, but he is able to do it because he really is a different person,” continued Ruiz-Cotorro.
“It's no longer that they numb your foot so you don't have pain and suddenly you can compete, it's accepting that challenge and then isolating yourself from all that feeling to later give you the opportunity to play several games with those conditions, also against very high level rivals.
“Coming in addition to the rib problem that had prevented him from having the proper preparation and rhythm of matches that he wanted. These things can only be done by Rafa.”
Nadal suffers from Mueller-Weiss syndrome, which is a rare degenerative condition that causes chronic pain.
It is an issue he has dealt with for years and at the Italian Open last month it flared up, leaving him hobbling and grimacing during defeat to Denis Shapovalov.
Asked about his chances of playing at Wimbledon, which starts on June 27, Nadal said: "I will be there if my body allows it. Wimbledon is a priority, the Grand Slams are a priority.
"Playing it with anti-inflammatories, yes. With anaesthesia injections, no."
Speaking at the French Open after Nadal's latest triumph on clay, Tim Henman said:“When you’ve won as much as Rafa has, you just never know what’s around the corner. He’s been very frank and very honest about the future, saying that he doesn’t know whether he’s going to be here next year.
"You would’ve thought that when he wins these big titles - don’t forget he won the Australian Open, and the French Open now - it’s going to motivate him to keep going.
"That’s what we all have our fingers and toes crossed for because it’s a privilege to see one of the greatest champions of our sport playing like that.”
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