Chronic foot pain plaguing Nadal
French Open champion Rafael Nadal says he “doesn’t want to keep playing” if he continues to need anaesthetic injections to numb chronic foot pain.
Nadal, 36, won his record-extending 14th title at Roland Garros having “no feeling” in his left foot.
The Spaniard had multiple injections during a tournament where he won a 22nd Grand Slam title on Sunday.
“It’s obvious with the circumstances that I am playing, I can’t and I don’t want to keep going,” said Nadal.
The two-time Wimbledon champion says he would not play at the All England Club, where the grass-court major starts on June 27, if a nerve-burning treatment next week cannot solve the issue.
Nadal suffers from Mueller-Weiss syndrome – a rare degenerative condition that affects bones in the feet – and was limping at the Italian Open just 10 days before Roland Garros began.
“I have been playing with injections on the nerves to numb the foot and that’s why I was able to play during these two weeks,” Nadal said after his 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 victory over Casper Ruud.
“I have no feelings in my foot, because my doctor was able to put anaesthetic injections on the nerves. That takes out the feeling on my foot.”
He added: “I’m going to be in Wimbledon if my body is ready to be in Wimbledon. That’s it. Wimbledon is not a tournament that I want to miss. I think nobody wants to miss Wimbledon. I love Wimbledon.
“If I am able to play with anti-inflammatories, yes; to play with anaesthetic injections, no. I don’t want to put myself in that position again.”
Nadal said he would soon have radiofrequency ablation – which uses heat on the nerve to quell long-term pain – but would have to consider surgery if that treatment did not provide a sufficient solution.
“If that works, I am going to keep going. If that doesn’t work, then it is going to be another story,” he said.
“Then I will have to ask myself if I am ready to do a major surgery that doesn’t guarantee me to be able to be competitive again and could take a long time to be back.”
Last year, Nadal feared his career was over because of the condition and cut short his season last year, including missing Wimbledon and the US Open, to deal with the problem.
A stress fracture of the rib also caused him to miss two months of the season shortly after his 21st major win at the Australian Open.
“As everyone knows in the world of tennis, my preparation was not ideal,” Nadal said.
“But Roland Garros is Roland Garros. Everybody knows how much this tournament means to me, so I wanted to keep trying and to give myself a chance here.
“That’s was the only way to give myself a chance here. So I did it.”
Speaking on court, Nadal said he never thought he would still be competing at the highest level at his age.
“I never believed I would be here at 36, playing in the most important court of my career one more time in a final,” he added.
“I don’t know what can happen in the future, but I’m going to keep fighting to try to keep going.” (BBC)