Nadal, against Medvedev and a thousand more rivals


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The medical history of Rafael Nadal it is almost as long as his track record. War wounds marked forever on his body that have also shaped his career. Today, (9.30, Eurosport), against Daniil Medvedev, he can take a step into another dimension, a footprint where no one has ever stepped before, his name on the 21st Grand Slam title, a tiebreaker in the race for eternity that he stars with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. But as Nadal himself said after reaching the final, there are victories that are more important than any title. Returning to play tennis after six months bordering on farewell is one of them. Continue playing tennis at 35 years old, when at 19 they already predicted his end, is the biggest one.

In 2004, a stress fracture in the scaphoid of the left foot raised the first alarm and the first punishment: without playing Wimbledon or the Athens Games. Already in 2005, Nadal lifted his first Roland Garros -and ten other titles-, wore a sleeveless shirt, pirate pants, hair and XXL biceps, propelled himself towards number 1 and, without knowing it yet, began to draw an era in his sport , but there was still his Achilles heel: a malformation in that left foot, degenerative, made his scaphoid thinner, and it split. Doctors, unable to find a definitive treatment even today, assumed that the wear would be such that he would not be able to play at the highest level. I was 19 years old.

He was able to name his ailment, Muller-Weiss syndrome, and found a solution not exempt from collateral damage: special insoles that modify his point of support and shift the weight to another side. So special that even the shoes had to be custom made to fit. From there, his commitment to tennis: he no longer remembers playing without pain. In 2006 it was the soleo that took him away from the circuit for a month, but above all that annoyance with a German name persisted. The resolution of the problem in the scaphoid resulted in a displacement of the balance points, straining other joints such as the knees, another of the weak points that have separated him from tennis on more than one occasion. In 2008 he was left without playing against Davydenko in Paris-Bercy and without participating in the Masters Cup. Worse was in 2009, where knee tendonitis caused him to lose for the first time at Roland Garros and miss Wimbledon. He was also not allowed to continue into the 2010 Australian Open quarterfinals against Andy Murray. In 2012, knees forced him to end his season since the loss at Wimbledon against Lukas Rosol. Seven months without tennis, and without the London Games, due to Hoffa syndrome, inflammation of the patellar tendon, derived from tendinitis. He also did not step on the 2013 Australian Open.

Also the ‘new supports’ forced their movements punishing the hip and the back, which prevented him from competing in the 2014 Australian Open final against Stan Wawrinka – and would trouble him again in early 2021. That same 2014 he added to his history an injury to the wrist, goodbye to Toronto, Cincinnati and US Open, which would reappear in 2016 to leave it without Roland Garros and Wimbledon. In 2018, the psoas-ilíaco He crushed it at the beginning and end of the course, dropped from Shanghai, Paris-Bercy, the Masters Cup and the Davis Cup. And, after a 2020 frozen by the coronavirus, the foot again, the doubts, the nightmare.

His return to the circuit, to tennis, to a Grand Slam, to the final of a Grand Slam, is, he confessed, a gift, since there have been talks in these months with the withdrawal on the table. With professionalism flooding the sport today, it is hardly a feat that he is one step away from being the first man to put infinity further away at 35 years of age; but in having been able to offer themselves the option to take that step despite all the scars. “I feel alive again in tennis,” said the Balearic these days. Smile and shout to heaven because they are not only triumphs over Giron, Hanfmann, Khachanov, Mannarino, Shapovalov or Berrettini, but, above all, a triumph over himself.

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