What better way to begin the 2012 season than by talking about injuries in tennis. Without even a flip of a coin or a the call of a score, the pro tennis tours have already been hit by a spate of ailments to some pretty big names.
Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova have already withdrawn from tournaments next week – though let’s be honest top stars on the WTA circuit often shun their own WTA events. And the women are not alone. Robin Soderling is still fighting mono. Marin Cilic and James Blake are nursing knees while Lleyton Hewitt is battling a bad toe.
And our favorite swashbuckling Spaniard, Rafael Nadal, has already fired his first preemptive injury strike. Today, the oft-injured Nadal announced that the shoulder that was ailing him a month ago is …guess what …still an issue.
“I had a problem before London with my shoulder and I had to stop for about 10 days before the (ATP) finals,” Nadal said to the AP Thursday in Abu Dhabi. “It felt better but again it resurfaced. In December, I did not have enough time to practice because of that.”
Bottom line Nadal said, the shoulder is “not 100 percent”. Uh oh.
We haven’t even started and he’s already damaged goods?
The good news for Rafa is the Australian Open is still 17 days away. But instead of further rest, rehab and treatment Nadal has decided to soldier on. He must have that urge again to pay the bills. Who doesn’t, especially in this economy?
Nadal and his bad shoulder are scheduled to play tomorrow at the Abu Dhabi exhibition and then he’ll head to Doha where he’ll officially start his 2012 ATP season on Monday.
Nadal then tried to quiet critics by adding that he’ll also take the full month of February off to refuel and recover from this early season stretch. It’s a smart move but I have to ask, why not dial it down these next few weeks to be better prepared for Australia? I guess the lure of all those oil millions is just too great to pass up.
Of course the list is long of Nadal’s injury woes. Bad knees. Bad ab muscles. Bad feet. Bad legs. Bad outfits. And now we add shoulder. And unlike wisdom teeth or burnt fingers, I can’t help but think playing with a bad shoulder is a good thing, especially at the start of what will be a long Olympic season.
And notwithstanding, should Nadal lose in Doha or Australia, he now has that shoulder to blame. Perfect. Here we go again.
Honestly, I like and admire Rafa and maybe here – I hope – his words/quotes/meaning just got lost in translation because this injury routine is wearing awfully thin. It’s an act he has to drop.
Let’s hope some things do really change on New Year’s Day, and not just the date.
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