'Who knows what would have happened if he was injury-free..'. How many times we heard it about Rafael Nadal, a tennis player who won much but who also paid over the years the physical energy he has always spent. His career saw him suffer injuries almost every year, except for 2015 where he had what described as a "mental injury", the fact of being unable to control emotions in the important moments.
We start by 2003: at the age of 17 Nadal suffers from an elbow injury during a practice in Manacor, it forces him to withdraw from what was planned to be his first Grand Slam in career, Roland Garros. 2004: scafoid stress fracture during Estoril event.
Two months of break that force him to skip the most important events of the season: Roland Garros, Wimbledon and Athens Olympics. 2005: left foot injury, three months out of competition and withdrawal from Paris Masters and ATP Finals.
He also suffers knee injury in October during Madrid Masters, that however managed to win after a remarkable final against Ljubicic. 2006: he has an issue on the soles of the left foot that cause a one month break and the withdrawal from the Australian Open.
A back injury does not allow him to continue the match against Hewitt at The Queen's Club after winning the title of all the most important clay-courts events. The treatment gives the results he hoped for and reaches his first Wimbledon final, plays ATP Finals for the first time ever losing to Roger Federer in the semifinals.
2007: new year new injury. Rafa suffers cramps to his left arm that make him lose strength and precision, another issue that adds to the usual knee injury. However Nadal does not panick: 'The only injury I had this year was knee's.
There isn't any reason to get worried and to be honest my career isn't in danger.' 2008: a tendon knee injury forces him withdraw from his quarter-finals Match against Davydenko in Paris Bercy. In this case the problem requires time to heal, so withdraws from ATP Finals after a very tiring season where he played 111 matches.
He can definitely consolate with the fact that became World No. 1 for the first time in his career. 2009: tendon issue on both knees. The loss to Robin Soderling is the first one at the Roland Garros for Rafa, who skips Wimbledon as well.
But 31 May will remain forever in the tennis history. In the same year he will suffer abdominal issues during US Open, although he still manages to reach the semifinals losing to Del Potro. 2010: once again a knee injury, this time against Andy Murray at the Australian Open in the quarter-finals.
A match played at a high intensity but that sees Rafa give up down 6-4 7-5 3-0. Nadal will recover very great in one of the most important seasons for him. 2011: adductor problem during Australian Open against Ferrer. Rafa remains on court until tue end of the match and during a medical time out is in tears.
2012: it's the biggest injury Rafa ever had in his career. He starts to have knee issues already during Roland Garros that he will win. But in Wimbledon the five-sets loss to Lukas Rosol is his last match of the season. 2014: the back injury comes in the worst moment, during the Australian Open final.
'It hurt me more losing this final instead of the 2012's one against Djokovic', Nadal said after the match. 2014: The wrist was one of the Fewer parts of Rafa's body that were not affected, but it ended in 2014 when the Spaniard player gets injured during a practice session and withdraws from Toronto, Cincinnati and US Open.
He will return to compete in Beijing. 2016: we come to our days and the issue is still the wrist, that starts to bother him after Australian Open. He has treatments until April, then withdraws from Roland Garros and Wimbledon.
Comes back at the Olympics, loses to Pouille at the US Open and ends the season earlier. ALSO READ: Roger Federer: 'I am using Nadal as an inspiration for coming back strong in 2017'