He sat looking dejected and disappointed, the bull logo cap sitting firmly on his head and his arms crossed, being questioned at a press conference on his withdrawal from the Rolex Paris Masters tournament. He explained that "The last few days I started to feel a little bit the abdominal, especially when I was serving.
I was checking with the doctor and the doctor says that is recommended to not play, because if I continue the abdominal maybe can break and can be a major thing, and I really don't want that". Rafael Nadal had to halt his competition and shakes his head with frustration saying "It has been a tough year for me in terms of injuries so I want to avoid drastic things".
The last time the 'King of Clay' played was the US Open pulling out with a stomach injury thus giving fellow Spaniard comrade Fernando Verdasco a bye into the third round. This is a new injury, not the knee situation that forced him out of September's US Open.
Everyone can attest that Nadal is a hard playing tennis competitor and though he forfeit his #1 spot to Novak Djokovic because he had to pull out of the Rolex tournament with the injury, all the tennis community wants to see him healthy and play well.
But the Nitto ATP Finals in London are right on the heels of the Rolex with fans and tennis enthusiast wishing to see him recuperate and be available to compete over the Pond. Nadal's health is up in the air at this point and so is his chances of ever playing in London which he says that "I just go day by day, as I did all of my tennis career...I would love to be in London...But the most important thing for me is to be healthy and have the chance to compete weeks in a row.
It's something that I wasn't able to do this year, playing only nine events and retiring in two..." Nadal has to play not on the court now, but do a 'sit and wait' situation of how he feels whether practising or just moving.
He doesn't want to push himself saying "As you know when you come back after injuries, and you push a little bit the body at the beginning, some issues can happen". It's an awkward position that Rafa Nadal is in now.
He is doing a 'wait and see' while he is on the sidelines watching his fellow players who can play and many whom are in the same conditions as he, with Juan Martin del Potro with a fractured right kneecap or Milos Raonic nursing an elbow injury, bowing out at the second round of Rolex Masters.
Rafa's predicament is similar to others and not the same being he was #1 and now #2 in the World. Sponsors, fans and all re relying on his presence and especially the end of season tournament. But the biggest picture is not his appearance at Nitto but afterwards towards the new 2019 season.
Will he be all better and enjoy a successful next season or will he be plagued with ailments and injuries causing retirements from matches and withdrawals from tournaments? Only time will tell and how his body bounces back from the injuries to heal again.
He gets honest with his health and playing performance and says"...I really can't compete at the per cent I am today..." Nadal is hopeful of course but wants things to run its course and if he will be healed and in good shape to play next season...then let it be.