Rafael Nadal Explains How He Got His Knees Better, But Still Critical Of Hardcourts
by Tom Gainey | October 9th, 2013, 11:54 am

Rafael Nadal discussed the treatment he used last year for getting his knees in good health. Speaking to the press Tuesday after his first win at the Shanghai Rolex Masters, he’s what Nadal revealed:

“PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma therapy) worked unbelievable on my knee before, in 2010, 2009,” Nadal said. “2009 I had to pull out of Wimbledon, then I came back, but still I have pain. Just after Monte‑Carlo I did for the first time in my life the PRP treatment for me knee, but it was on the top of the knee, not down. Worked unbelievable. That injury I had was recovered 100% in very short period of time during the PRP treatment.

“With the injury I have now, I did. I tried lot of times, and it really didn’t help me a lot. The machines I have at home, the only thing that help me is to put me a little bit more fit without have to run or something like this, to make an aggression on the tendon. But seriously we didn’t find the key of the recover because I need to keep working hard on finding things that will help me more.”

He went on saying that his left is still not 100%, that he still feels pain. But he’s able to control it now.

“I did a lot of things,” added Nadal. “We tried to find solutions in every moment. The feeling ‑ I say it since I came back ‑ the feeling on the knee is not 100% perfect. But the feeling on the knee is very good for me because even if I have pain a lot of days, the pain is not limiting my movements. That’s the most important thing. I am playing with no limitations. I am free when I am playing.

“Even if I have pain, I am able to control that pain ‑ something in the past I was not able to control that pain, so I couldn’t play. But the feeling is I would like to improve a little bit more. But for the moment, I am happy because I am able to play. Since I came back after the injury, I was able to play all the tournaments I want and with a very good feelings.”

Nadal won his second round match today beating Alexandr Dolgpolov. He’ll face Carlos Berlocq, who upset John Isner, in the third round tonight.

After losing on Sunday to Novak Djokovic in the Beijing final, Nadal is now 27-1 on the year on hardcourts, a surface he maintains is not healthy for players and for the sport.

“I say because is something that I think going to be fair for the next generations,” Nadal said. “If they are able to play in an easier surface for the body, to try to have a longer career, to try to be more healthy when they finish his careers ‑ something that probably I will not have that lucky.”

Nadal added that he no longer wants to be involved in the politics of the sport because, simply, nothing really gets done.

“I am really out of politics, and I don’t want to be involved in politics of the tennis anymore,” he said. ” I know even if you have strong ideas and even if you believe the changes are possible, I know there is always a wall there that is impossible to go over. I don’t know. What I am saying I am saying because is something that I feel. If somebody from the ATP asks me, I will say the same things. But as always happened, nothing gonna change.”

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54 Comments for Rafael Nadal Explains How He Got His Knees Better, But Still Critical Of Hardcourts

Ben Pronin Says:

I’m unclear as to what solutions Nadal is finding now and how he is able to control his pain so that it does not limit his movement.

SG1 Says:

I think Rafa’s trying to say that the season needs to be shortened and that there needs to be less emphasis on the hard court season. He hasn’t really indicated what ideas he has to fix the situation.

It does seem like there are a lot of injuries to the big players. Murray and Fed’s backs, Nadal’s knees, just about every body part on DelPotro. Unlike Rafa, I don’t attribute this to hard courts (or too many tournaments on h-courts) but to the way the game is played right now.

The game needs to be sped up. The rallies are too long because the surfaces and balls are too slow. Wanna’ keep players healthy? Shorten the points and reward attacking tennis again. Doesn’t have to be like the 90’s but something has to be done get the shorter points and by extension, create some contrast of styles again.

SG1 Says:

Watch the 4 breaker match with Sampras and Agassi in 2001. Anyone think this was boring?

Margot Says:

Didn’t serve and volleyers in the past get injuries too? Am curious because players like Tsonga seem to get their fair/unfair amount of injuries.
The season seems unrelenting, I think that’s the main problem.

josh Says:

Amen SG1! We need to have serve & volley back.

Ben Pronin Says:

SG1, have you caught that documentary on concussions in the NFL? I haven’t seen it, but I read about it and, well long story short, NFL players suffer a lot of concussions and the powers that be don’t seem to care/know how to deal with it.

Margot, I’m guessing you’re referring to what Murray said a little while back about serve and volleyers having shortened careers compared to the baseliners. From a glance, it does look like he’s right (although I doubt he did a ton a research on this).

At the end of the day, we need to accept that athletes are going to get injured. Some worse than others. Freak accidents happen, too (Kevin Ware!?). There’s only so much that can be done to prevent them.

Giles Says:

Vamos Champ! Hang in there!

SG1 Says:

Don’t remember knees and backs being too much of a problem twenty or thirty years ago when tennis shoe tech, rehab methods and training were archaic compared to today. Given today’s tech, attacking players wouldn’t get injured very often.

Ben, I agree. Injuries will happen (and no, I didn’t see the doc on concussions), but I suspect that shortening the points has to help because it results in matches that are shorter where it isn’t always a battle of attrition.

SG1 Says:

And I’m not talking about S&V. A faster court allows baseliners to hit through the court better too.

Anna Says:

Ben – I watched that documentary and what they’ve found is even high school players are subject to ctis’ and that’s true for all contact sports. Really, you don’t need brain scans to tell you that. What was surprising is the amount of brain damage incurred just from repetitive hits (no concussions) that players take throughout the course of a career or even a few years. It’s probably cumulative over the years. They scanned the brain of a high school senior who was killed on the field and found that even he had cti damage. I don’t think there is an answer for this other than changing the game drastically and then it wouldn’t be football. At least players know going in now that the possibility for neurological damage could be extensive. Again, I always thought that was a given.

Anna Says:

Jeez Tom Gainey. Doesn’t everybody and there brother know that Nadal is not fond of hard courts. I’m pretty sure the majority of the top 10 would concur. Why do you always make this sound like it’s Rafa’s issue alone. This is exactly why Rafa doesn’t want to get involved with the politics of the game. The fact that he’s been the number 1 player on h/c this year an STILL rues hard courts tells me that he’s sincere in his wish to better the game for those coming up.

skeezer Says:

“I’m pretty sure the majority of the top 10 would concur.”
Uh? Don’t think so. It’s a pipe dream to think the Tennis scene will have less hard courts. Having a strong opinion doesn’t make it the right one, or else the majority of players would have spoken up.

Faster courts are the way to go. More quality shotmaking and less “you won….. because you’re the last man standing”. Totally makes sense in the Injury dept with the style of play that is going on nowadays….

Anna Says:

So when did you take your poll Skeezer? Obviously speaking up by the players doesn’t change anything one way or the other because the tour is driven by money with little concern for the players health. The top 10 is a sampling of the top 100. I’ve read statements from Murray, Novak, Rafa, Berdych, Ferrer, and Tsonga all in agreement about hard courts. Clay is the great equalizer. You can’t slap a tennis ball around a court, or serve yourself to a championship as readily as you can on cement. I actually prefer to watch points being set up.

metan Says:

Stay healthy champion.
VAMOS No.1!!!

holdserve Says:

My Dad loves watching clay court tennis. It involves real all round skill, shotmaking and point construction.

But skeezer and Co are not interested in real tennis. Just in GOAT worship.
Fandom carried to blind extremes where their idol is bigger than the sport.

Tennis for Life Says:

“Fandom carried to blind extremes”
Great post holdserve.
That’s why he spreads lies like Federer has 10 wimby finals And 8 fo finals.

Michael Says:

I do not understand why Rafa criticizes hard courts when he is doing so well there. Now-a-days he looks more vulnerable on clay than on hard courts and that is speaking relatively. It seems he has mastered the intricacies of the hard court play and he is a picture of confidence. Ofcourse, over exposure on hard courts has debilatating effect on his troubled knees and Rafa justifiably is mindful of it. But, he has no other choice but to schedule his itinerary in a way his knees can withstand the strain.

Skeezer Says:


Conspiracy talk from rafafantics is the usual, just that. Conspiracy that it is everyone elses fault but Rafa. Post your facts and links that everyone of the top ten players want less hard courts and more Clay. Otherwise, stfu.

Question to HS and TFL,
You 2 play tennis? Ever played on HC and Clay?
From you types talk, you haven’t. You just talk fandom, thats it. Other wise its empty talk. So don’t talk smack unless you know what you’re talkin about. If you have played both surfaces,then lets talk.

@Tennis for death
Thanks for reminding me and everyone that Fed has been to 24 grand Slam finals, a unmatchable all time forever record ;)

metan Says:

As far as I know, this is not the first time Rafa complaints about hard courts. It’s been coupled of times.

Tennis X Hippy Chic Says:

Michael very wise and fair post,you always know how to put things into perspective,and i completely agree in that it seems strange he still has an issue with the HCs giveh how well hes done,and the irony is he seems to struggle less on HCs now,and more on grass and clay,watching Rafa on HCs these days for me is more enjoyable as he seems to be more aggressive,goes for his shots more,tries to end points quicker.

Giles Says:

Some funny tweets on Rafa watching Roger!

Tennis X Hippy Chic Says:

Thanks Giles thats very funny :))..

Giles Says:

Rafa’s recent success on HC doesn’t mean he supports the surface. He is still critical of the fact that there are too many HC tourneys compared to clay and grass. All that pounding of one’s body on cement cannot be a good thing for the players’ health and must be a contributing factor to the injuries the players suffer. Clay on the other hand is a more forgiving surface as too is grass.

Tennis X Hippy Chic Says:

Giles yeah true,fair enough.

Tennis X Hippy Chic Says:

Giles SG1 might have a point,might not necassarily be too many HC tournies,its probably the way people play the game these days,,i like how Rafa goes for his shots more and is more aggressive,and tries to shorten the points on HCs,as regards to his shedual i hope common sence would prevail,like Michael says listen to ones body and rest when he needs to.

Giles Says:

It’s all very well saying players should change their game styles, that may be the theory but is not so easy in practice.
Just ask the players!!

Tennis X Hippy Chic Says:

Yeah agree probably easier said than done.

metan Says:

Michael and Alison.
I don’t think Rafa is vulnerable on clay. For this year alone after 7 months absent he has six titles. Vina Del Mar for first trying, but he reached final. Got one blib on Montecarlo but it was okay too. He was in final and he has 8 there. Maybe grass could be correct. It becomes his worst surface, but I think it is just no enough time from FO to Wimby and no enough warm up tour except for Queen. I hope he could manage well his schedule, he could do better on grass next year. Let us see.

Tennis X Hippy Chic Says:

Metan what i meant was that this year,although he cleaned up on clay again almost aside from the MC blip,IMO i think this year he actually played even better on the HCs,such is the irony.

metan Says:

Alison, I got your point. This summer Rafa has proofed once again that he is not only a clay court player and hiding there like a cocoon. THANKS RAFA!! Other thing is his shots are crazy nowadays. He learnt, practiced and exercised it on the court.

hawkeye Says:

HC was ok when tennis was not so agressively physical.

Completely different story today.

Tennis has become extremely physical to the point that average age of retirement is lower than almost every other professional sport (except for golf)!

What other professional sport is played on such a hard surface that demands such stress to be placed on knees and hips?

Sure, the other option is to speed up the courts and give the majors over to players like Raonic and Isner.

However, I find the matches in Beijing and Shanghai pretty boring so far with little rhythm and point construction whether it’s Rafa, Nole or anyone else playing.

Clay is a superior surface for today’s game.

Ben Pronin Says:

Clay sucks, always has. It’s not about point construction, it’s about moon balling all day until someone misses. That’s not point construction.

Hard courts are the epitome of point construction. The ideal points ends with the winning player at the net. Work the cross court, open up down the line, and sneak in to close it out. It’s harder to approach net so perhaps settling for a winner from the baseline is good, too. But there aren’t a lot of winners on clay. Because it sucks.

Hawkeye, ever played basketball? Don’t ask dumb questions about other professional sports. Does it matter that the NFL is played on a better surface when they’re smashing into each other? Or boxing? How about hockey?

Again, athletes will always get injured. They just have to deal with it.

Anna, where are these quotes? All I ever see Murray and Djokovic saying is how much they love hard courts. Never heard a peep out of Tsonga or Berdych about it.

Mark Anderson Says:

Cement courts came with the Americans, every American learned to play on cement for the past 60 years. As Americans ruled the tennis world, tournaments became hard court. Point construction on clay is like chess compared to the three balls and out of hard court play ala Sampras . There should be many more grass and more clay for an equal balance if you could wave a wand alas… the Europeans who rule the tennis world are pointing out that one, their is no “season” for tennis, most of the tournaments are hard court. The length and hard surfaces lead to injuries. It’s really simple except for the simple minded.

hawkeye Says:

I understand Ben. I know you are upset today with the new Swiss No. 1 in the Race to London. Insults aren’t necessary.

Professional basketball is played on a hardwood floor which is significantly more shock absorbent than a tennis hard court.

Hockey is played on skates. Players skate and push off on their skates for speed. They don’t run.

As far as moon balling all day on clay, you must have missed the French Open Nadal Djokovic semifinal.

Perhaps your idea of point construction is aces and service winners and ends at serve and volley. Mine isn’t.

At the end, these are opinions and tennis is a game so insults like “dumb questions” aren’t necessary.


As Fed tweeted the other day…


Ben Pronin Says:

I didn’t know they switched.

There are exceptions to the rule, but clay tennis is generally boring. And it always was. And it always will be.

hawkeye Says:

No, fast hard court is.

Alex Says:

Agree with Ben.

hawkeye Says:

Interesting take from TENNIS.com’s Steve Tignor…


He says:

“Playing on dirt is a good workout, and a good lesson in how to construct points.”

“I’ve never had knee problems—knock on dirt—and while clay has a reputation for monotony, it actually gives you more strategic options, more ways to win points. And whether you’re a player or a spectator, sliding gives the game more flow than it has anywhere else.”

Alex Says:

Yes clay is monotonous. Djokovic can slide on hard-courts just fine.

SG1 Says:

I actually agree with Ben here. Not so much that clay is boring but that it doesn’t reward positive tennis. Clay tends to reward negative tennis. The rally will last until someone ultimately misses. In other words, a lot of the points end on unforced errors.

Grass and hard courts are more favorable to attacking tennis. You hit a big shot, you have a better chance of getting rewarded (you have the chance to hit a winner or draw a forced error). Today’s game is a little different in that a lot of the surfaces have been slowed down. Wimbledon and the AO play a lot more like clay than in the past.

One of the slams has to take the lead and change their surface to quicker. It’s a shame that Wimbledon has become a baseline rally festival but I don’t think The Big ‘W’ will make the change yet. Both the AO and the USO are the ones I’d expect to take the lead and change things up. Even choosing much quicker balls would be a start.

Giles Says:

“It’s the most physical form of tennis yet at the same time the most artistic” says Tiggy. I agree but the majority wouldn’t.
I love clay court tennis and thoroughly enjoy that part of the season.

SG1 Says:

I do think that playing on clay is an important part of the development process of a player. Playing on clay teaches patience, defensive skills, variety and point construction. These are great skills to develop when you’re a young player.

However, to take it to the next level, there needs to be play on faster surfaces. These surfaces teach the player to improvise quickly and offensive tactics.

SG1 Says:

A guy like Rafa has benefitted from the homogeneity of surfaces. 30 years ago, you had to go from the really slow red dirt to the ridiculously quick courts at Wimbledon. And the courts at the USO were damned fast too. Not sure Rafa would have been as successful 30 years ago (technology of today time warped backwards) on courts other than clay. Hard to say though because Rafa’s competitive nature is such an intangible.

Patson Says:

As far as the Asian swing of the tennis season goes, the chosen surface is hard possibly because it’s the easiest one to maintain. At least that’s what everybody says.

Here’s a proposition which looks to make the Asian swing more interesting:

During February, the tennis season is split into two surfaces. Those who prefer clay, play in South America. Those who prefer hard-courts are playing in Europe e.g Rotterdam. This should be the case in Asia as well, except here half of the tourneys can be happening on hard (including indoor hard) while the other half on grass. Paris Masters or Shanghai Masters could be turned into a Grass court event.

This should add diversity to the tour and players can pick and choose the tourneys they want to play based on surface just like they can do during February.

skeezer Says:

Why give Tiggy some credit here? He’s always clearly been a rafafanatic. His bias always comes through….

If Rafa played on the old days slick courts there is no way he would have produced as much as he has. By the time he took a swing with that big FH the ball would be by him.

@Patson…we for sure could use some more Grass tournies ;)

skeezer Says:

@SG1 some great posts there..

Sean Randall Says:

I tell you how Rafa got his knee feeling better, he started winning matches! Winning cures everything.

hawkeye Says:

Actually, sounds nice but not really.

Rafa was winning and No. 1 in 2009 when he injured his knee and lost early at the FO and skipped Wimby.


Giles Says:

Yep, winning numbs the pain!! Lol

Fg Says:

Nadal is not very smart person to speak out about his idea. sounds very selfish, very narrow-minded.

Michael Says:


I said Rafa today is vulnerable on Clay more than hard courts relatively speaking. You must underline that relatively speaking which makes the difference in what I said and what you inferred. This year has been phenomenal for Rafa on hard courts more than Clay courts. You remember he was beaten by Novak in Monte Carlo and nearly beaten at Rolland Garros too. He lost to Zeballos when he came after a come back on clay courts. But on hard, he has stood like a rock except for the defeat against Novak in China Open in the finals. I cannot take into account this year’s performance of Rafa on Grass because I thought he was physically struggling when I saw his legs strapped and he was limping on court. May be next year we will see Rafa what he is capable of on Grass courts having made five finals.

Michael Says:


I think Rafa has an issue with the hard courts not because it doesn’t suit his style of play, but more due to the physical strain it causes on his body. But as I said, the secret lies in proper scheduling and it is in the hands of Rafa and his Team.

Steve 27 Says:

more clay and grass and less hardcourt, but americans(and now the super rich Arabs) have always their $ to convince.

The ATP is like FIFA: Folllowing the money.

Michael Says:


The Tennis world is dominated by hard courts not only for money, but for the fact that they are lot easier to maintain and are less susceptible to environmental changes. The Players interest comes next.

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