The 19-year-old Rafael Nadal prevailed over Ivan Ljubicic in a marathon five-setter to claim the Madrid Masters crown in 2005. Nadal's only indoor hard crown came at a massive cost, as the youngster broke his foot and never fully recovered!
Competing with constant pain, Nadal has lived with it over the years, having better or worse days until the last year's Roland Garros. Rafa reached the semi-final and faced Novak Djokovic in a titanic battle that required four hours and 11 minutes for four sets.
The Spaniard wasted a set point in the third and left out of gas in the fourth. He struggled with his foot and ruined the second part of the season! Rafa skipped Wimbledon and the Olympic Games to recover his body. The Spaniard entered Washington to test his body, embracing two matches and realizing he could not play with that amount of pain.
Nadal decided to wrap up the season and tried many different solutions to heal his foot, undergoing a minor procedure in Barcelona in September. Returning to the practice court, the Spaniard gave his best to recover and prepare for the upcoming season.
Embracing solid practice sessions without serious issues, Nadal decided to travel to Melbourne and enter two tournaments, feeling no pressure while only wanting to stay competitive. Feeling better than a couple of months ago, Rafa scored all ten victories Down Under and conquered the 21st Major crown at the Australian Open.
Rafael Nadal is confident about the state of his foot.
Nadal experienced a fractured rib in Indian Wells and skipped Monte Carlo and Barcelona. The king of clay could not find his usual level in Madrid and Rome, losing before the semi-final and gathering dark clouds over his Roland Garros chances.
With a foot injury bothering him again, Nadal needed injections to endure all the efforts in Paris. The king of clay passed the opening rounds and defeated Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev and Casper Ruud for his 14th Roland Garros title.
Rafa was the favorite for the year-end no. 1 honor ahead of Wimbledon, but it was not to be for him. The Spaniard injured his abdominal muscle and withdrew from the event following an epic victory over Taylor Fritz in the quarter-final.
Unable to recover at 100% by the end of the season, Rafa played only nine matches since Canada, winning four and experiencing four straight losses for the first time since 2009! However, Nadal is confident ahead of 2023 after finding the solution for his troubled foot, complimenting his treatment and hoping to compete injury-free in the upcoming season.
"The season behind us had very different phases and was entirely marked by physical issues. However, everything changed when we found an effective treatment for my troubled foot; that has helped me a lot. That radically changed the perspective of my continuity in high-level tennis," Rafael Nadal said.