"I need to go back and try to find a way to be better again," the multi-grand slam winner, Rafael Nadal said upon withdrawing from the ATP Toronto Masters days ago. He had been suffering from a foot injury for a while and doesn't want it to get worse to prohibit his career progress.
"I have had this issue for a couple of months...it is not a happy situation after all the success I've had here in Canada..." the Spaniard comments. Nadal has racked up five Canadian titles and it looks like now his injury will postpone the possible sixth trophy at Toronto.
The last few tournaments graced the Spaniard with two titles: his hometown's Barcelona Open where he defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas for his 12th title there. In the Italian Open, he captured his 10th Rome trophy to win over Novak Djokovic.
The Serbian did get his groove back at the French Open and won the semifinal over Rafa, but a two-month break wasn't to the Spaniard's advantage and he bowed to the South African Lloyd Harris at the CitiOpen's second round.
The desire to win is always there but to keep the passion of the game mentally and to succeed has to be present. When you're in pain that can't happen and Rafa is feeling the heat and decided to withdraw from the Canadian tournament he loves so well.
"..with this pain, I am not able to enjoy it..." Nadal said honestly. The challenges of playing on tour for years are many for Nadal who has to stay focused and in tune with the newer generation that is rising and succeeding at many events.
The injuries that caused the Spaniard to take absences off his schedule have not totally disappeared. He wants to recuperate enough to come in fresh with his strategies and winning techniques. But times are getting more difficult not only dealing with his younger opponents but with the coronavirus issues.
It takes a lot to be careful and stay healthy in order to be at a victorious, competitive level. The top 4 or 5 ATP guys are experiencing the same situations but age also becomes a factor in coming back strong from injury and sickness.
Rafael Nadal knows all the perimeters he has to accomplish to stay a top contender and says "I really don't believe that I have the chance to fight for the things that I really need to fight for," Spaniard says glumly.
The Masters 1000 in Cincinnati next week and the upcoming last grand slam the US Open are in jeopardy of Rafael Nadal's participation. The challenges are many and the decisions are few. It's necessary to have time to return from injury and play well with success in sight.
The near future is uncertain of what will be for Rafael Nadal but all he knows is that "The most important thing is to enjoy playing tennis."