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French Open champion Nadal admits he considered shutting down season after Indian Wells

Hannah Wilks in News 12 Jun 2019
  • Nadal admits suffering 'major downturn' earlier in season
  • The 2019 French Open champion considered shutting his season down in March
  • 'I was sick of always being in pain'
Rafael Nadal celebrates winning a twelfth French Open title (PA Sports)

French Open champion Rafael Nadal admitted he considered ending his season after Indian Wells.

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Rafael Nadal may have dazzled the tennis world yet again this past weekend when he won his twelfth French Open title, extending his unprecedented dominion over Roland Garros - but it didn't come easily.

Nadal revealed that he 'suffered a major downturn' and nearly ended his 2019 season in March, when a knee injury forced him to pull out of Indian Wells.

The world no. 2 was due to play Roger Federer in the semifinals of the Indian Wells Masters, but a flare-up of his long-standing knee tendonitis forced him to give a walkover to his great rival, and he went on to pull out of Miami.

'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.'

Earlier in his career, Nadal missed parts of the 2009 season and the last six months of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 due to knee problems. He ended his 2014 and 2016 seasons a month early and did not play after the US Open in 2018, with a planned return to competition at the Paris Masters derailed by an abdominal injury.

Nadal withdrew from scheduled warm-up events in January but reached the final of the Australian Open, losing in straight sets to Novak Djokovic. 

'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,' Nadal said.

The 'King of Clay' admitted that he was still 'in a very low place' when he began his clay-court season at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, where he lost in the semifinals to Fabio Fognini as he attempted to capture a twelfth title, and after a first-round victory at the Barcelona Open - where he was also trying to win a twelfth title - took three sets against Leonardo Mayer, the 33-year-old contemplated the future of his season together with his team.

'I promised myself that I would play through Roland Garros with the attitude and energy necessary to confront all obstacles in my way. I wanted to give myself the opportunity to compete at the highest level possible throughout this clay-court season. I spoke with my team and we thought things over,' Nadal said.

Ultimately Nadal would lose in the semifinals of the Barcelona Open to Dominic Thiem, and go on to lose at the same stage of the Madrid Open to Stefanos Tsitsipas - but by the Rome Masters he was playing better, defeating Tsitsipas and Novak Djokovic back-to-back to capture the title for the ninth time.

Nadal lifts the French Open trophy for the twelfth time (PA Sports)
He would drop just one set on the way to the French Open final, scoring straight-sets wins over Kei Nishikori and Roger Federer, before defeating Thiem in four sets in a re-match of last year's final, increasing his overall haul of Grand Slam titles to 18 - just two behind Federer's total of 20 - and improving his record at Roland Garros to 93-2.

'From that time in Barcelona through now, I’ve steadily improved. The self-evaluation has paid off. I made lots of small but important steps along the way,' Nadal said.

'[...] Just the fact that I’ve been able to play five tournaments in a row without withdrawing once is satisfying.'

Nadal hinted at altering his schedule for the remainder of the season, but is not due to play a tournament before Wimbledon, which begins on Monday 1 July.

The two-time Wimbledon champion had his best result at Wimbledon since 2011 last year, when he narrowly missed out on reaching the final, losing 8-10 in the fifth to eventual champion Djokovic. 

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French Open champion Nadal admits he considered shutting down season after Indian Wells

After winning his twelfth French Open title, Rafael Nadal admits that injury and pain caused him to consider ending his 2019 season in March: 'I was sick of always being in pain'

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