Rafael Nadal: I was sick of always being in pain and wanted to end my season after Indian Wells
Rafael Nadal won his 12th French Open title over the weekend, but he nearly didn’t compete at Roland Garros this year as he “suffered a major downturn” after the Indian Wells Masters.
The Spaniard beat Dominic Thiem in four sets on Sunday to take his Grand Slam tally to 18, which leaves him two behind Roger Federer’s record of 20.
Nadal, though, will be the first to admit that the first half of the season has been big mentally and physically difficult as he played only one tournament between the Australian Open and Indian Wells Masters.
He reached the semi-finals of the US hard-court event, but then suffered another injury setback and was forced to withdraw from his clash against Roger Federer.
And he admits he considered calling it a season as early as March.
“Mentally, after Indian Wells, I suffered a major downturn,” he told ATPTour.com. “Ideas and scenarios were swirling inside my head. I considered shutting down my season to see if my body would recuperate instead of playing through injury after injury.
“Another option was to press on and play through the pain. Either way, the outlook was bleak. It required a change of mindset this time, and that doesn’t happen overnight.”
After going through an extensive rehabilitation programme, he finally returned to the ATP Tour in late April as he competed in the Monte-Carlo Masters.
But he made a slow start by his standards as he “only” reached the semi-finals in Monte-Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid before it all clicked at the Italian Open and French Open.
“I was reluctant and hesitant to return. Physically, because of another tendon tear in my knee, and on top of going through all the treatment required in the recovery process, there was dealing with the pain. That’s the reality of the matter — it was different this time. That’s not how it usually works with me,” he explained.
“Normally, the injury is diagnosed, I rehab, practise and go through the routine like it’s no big deal. I’d play through pain and wouldn’t even consider that as suffering. This time was different… considering my history of competing, of fighting. Normally, this process isn’t what I would consider ‘suffering’.
He added: “Between the level of pain and just being sidelined, there came a time when I just felt tired of all of this. I was sick of always being in pain. I get it: with competing comes pain. But when you’ve accumulated injuries, decided to deal with them, recovered from them and before you even get back on the court you’ve acquired another, that takes a toll.
“After Indian Wells, I took a moment to make sense of all of it. I felt a little more upbeat around the time of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, but I was still in a very low place and hardly positive.”
More from Tennis365:
Novak Djokovic urges Tokyo 2020 officials to change schedule after opening win
Djokovic called for organisers to rethink the Olympic tennis schedule because of the hot and humid conditions in Tokyo
Naomi Osaka posts social media message after lighting the Olympic flame
Osaka lit the Olympic flame as the Tokyo Games were opened with an understated ceremony held behind closed doors.
Big win for Andy Murray as he starts his Olympics campaign alongside Joe Salisbury
Andy Murray and Joe Salisbury marked themselves out as medal contenders with a brilliant first-round performance
Former Olympian suggests Naomi Osaka has made her life more difficult after media boycott
Osaka is set to return to action for the first time since she pulled out of the French Open at the Olympics
Andy Murray reveals his daughter gave him inspiration after Wimbledon defeat
Murray revealed a chat with his daughter helped him reassess his Wimbledon disappointment as he targets an Olympic medal.
Novak Djokovic gives his pre-Olympics press conference as he targets a gold medal
Djokovic struck a confident tone ahead of his bid for a first Olympic gold medal in Tokyo.
Novak Djokovic handed tough Olympics draw as he practices with Andy Murray
Djokovic may have to beat Alexander Zverev and Andrey Rublev to reach the gold medal match in the Tokyo Olympics.
Andy Murray’s former coach on what happens next for the former world No.1
Alex Corretja urges Andy Murray to continue to play as long as he still enjoys it.
The ultimate guide to the best tennis trainers on the market
A look at the best tennis trainers on the market for players of all standards.
‘A beacon of hope’ – Andy Murray on why the Olympic Games mean so much to him
The greatest sporting event of them all has a special place in Andy Murray’s heart.