Rather than chase the sixth Canadian Open title in Toronto this week, Rafael Nadal traveled home to Spain to discuss his next steps with doctors. The 35-year-old has been dealing with a foot injury since Roland Garros, playing just two games after that epic semi-final loss to Novak Djokovic and racking up doubts about his appearance at the US Open.
Despite winning two titles, Rafa has yet to find his best game in 2021, dealing with injuries since the first weeks of the season and coming out of the top 3 for the first time since June 2017. Nadal lost to Djokovic after more than four hours of excellent battle, he suffered his third defeat at Roland Garros and stayed away from the practice field for three weeks due to a sore foot.
With no time to recover and play competitive matches so quickly, Rafa withdrew from Wimbledon and the Olympics and made a new schedule prior to the US Open.
Nadal stayed away from tennis for two months
While speaking in an interview with Tennis Channel, Andy Roddick was first asked to name the toughest left-hander he has faced on tour.
The American, who has a 75-17 career win-loss record against southpaws, picked Rafael Nadal without any hesitation. While Nadal's forehand might not be the quickest or the flattest, it is still a very difficult shot to counter.
Nadal's crosscourt hook jumps up on his opponents, often forcing them to return it from well above shoulder height. That makes it nearly impossible to do much except send the ball back tamely, thus handing Nadal the immediate advantage in the rally.
"But Rafa, he always had the get-out-of-jail-free card where you might be ahead in a rally and he kind of flicks that hook forehand up," Roddick explained. "And even if he misses it and it lands short, it's still getting up and you really have no good option especially if you can't knock the ball down the line, which was again, hard for me."
The American added that it was "no fun" in trying to deal with Nadal's venomous crosscourt forehand. "But Rafa is able to kind of like start a monopoly game over, if he has a roll with that crosscourt forehand," Roddick said.
"He can just get out of jail everytime and get the pattern that he wants. It was no fun." However, since Nadal has decided to skip the National Bank Open and Western and Southern Open, he has now got extended time to recover. But the biggest worry remains: Will the four-time champion be fully fit in time for the US Open 2021?