Rafael Nadal Talks About The Knee Injury That Made Him Retire To Del Potro At The US Open
by Tom Gainey | September 7th, 2018, 9:08 pm

After almost 16 hours of play, Rafael Nadal’s body finally gave in. The Spaniard was playing today against Juan Martin del Potro in the US Open semifinals and early he was playing well.

But in the middle of the first, the trainer taped up his right knee. Two games later the trainer was back to remove the tape. Nadal pushed on but lost in the ensuing tiebreaker.

In the second, Nadal had the right knee taped for a second time on the first changeover. But signs were not good as Nadal looked in distress about the knee.

On a close call, Nadal argued with the chair umpire James Keothavong, first saying that it didn’t matter because he “was going to retire anyway”. Nadal didn’t at that point. He played on but could hardly compete with the bludgeoning shots from the Argentine.

Finally, after dropping the second he removed his headband, put his racquet in his bag and went to shake del Potro’s hand. It was over.

It was Nadal’s second retirement from a Slam this year – both on hard courts – after Australia. And he became the first man to do so at the US Open in the Open Era.

Nadal had won seven of nine against del Potro. He was hoping to become the first man to defend the US Open since Roger Federer in 2008. That’s all gone and now the question is, with Davis Cup SF in France next weekend and then the Laver Cup in Chicago, what kind of shape will the 32-year-old be in for the rest of the year.

Nadal met the press:

Q. You have been playing so well throughout this tournament, how disappointing is it for you to end this way? When did you realize you were having difficulty out there as far as your health? Before the match or during the match?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I had some issues during the tournament. As everybody knows, I had an issue, it was in the second or third match. Then I think was little bit better.

But, yeah, I think was 2-All in the first, 15-Love, something like this in the first set, that I felt. I said too my box immediately that I felt something on the knee. After that, I was just trying to see if in some moment the thing can improve during the match. But no, was not the day.

Yeah, I waited as much as I can. You could imagine very difficult for me to say good-bye before the match finish. But at some point you have to take a decision. It was so difficult for me to keep playing at the same time that way, having too much pain.

That was not a tennis match at the end, no? It was just one player playing, the other one staying on the other side of the court.

I hate to retired, but stay one more set out there playing like this will be too much for me.

Q. How much do you think the five-set match the other night affected your knee?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, you never know. Maybe zero, maybe yes. I was not feeling worst of my knee today before the match or yesterday when I practiced.

Q. Can you describe the pain in your knee in comparison to the other issues you’ve had with your knee?
RAFAEL NADAL: The knee is always very similar. When that happens, yeah, just accept it. That’s all. I cannot compare the knee with other times because the pain on the knee is always very similar when I have.

The problem is this time was something little bit more aggressive because was in one movement. Was not something progressive. So I don’t know what can happen in a couple of days or in a couple of weeks.

Immediately is much worst when the thing happened like this, immediately in a bad movement, than when is coming.

Q. Because of that, are you worried it might be a structural damage to the knee?
RAFAEL NADAL: Structural damage? What do you mean?

Q. That you actually did something inside the knee that hurt it, not just tendinitis?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. If I have more things, will be tough. So no, no. I know what I have. Similar thing than always. Just about do treatment. Is not an injury that tells you three weeks off and you are back. Is not an injury that tells you six months off, you are back. Is maybe an injury that in one week you feel better, is an injury that maybe in six months you don’t feel better.

I know what is going on with the knee. But the good thing is I know how I have to work to be better as soon as possible because we have a lot of experience on that.

I am sure will not be the six months off. I was just making a comparation [sic]. Is not an injury like when you break something, something like this. It is an injury that is a tendinitis. Then is a decision about yourself, about if you want to wait till you feel almost nothing or you want to keep going with pain, so…

Is not the moment to think.

Q. Of course you’re disappointed, but you have a great spirit and respect for Juan Martin. What does it mean to you to see him get to his first final in such a long time? His struggle has been very long.
RAFAEL NADAL: I can’t say that I am happy because I am not. I will not lie you.

But, yes, he’s a player that went through lot of issues during his career, like me too. I know how tough is this thing. I know how much frustration can be when you can’t do the thing that you want to do. He knows very well.

Happy to him that he’s able to be back in his top level. Yeah, wish him all the best. For him will be huge if he’s able to win again a Grand Slam.

Q. At this point in your career, can you describe how much of your off-court work is pain management, just keeping your body in shape enough to play these five-set matches?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I can’t describe. Is just my work. Is just my normal thing of every day, just to do the work the right way, just enjoy the moments when I have the chance to play with healthy conditions.

I’m having two great years. Yeah, last year was a fantastic year. This year have been a fantastic year until this moment.

I lost four matches. Two of them I had to retired. Negative thing is two of them have been in quarterfinals and semifinals of a Grand Slam, close to fight for titles. That’s frustrating. Can’t tell you another thing. Is tough for me.

Is not about losing. Is about don’t have the chance to fight for it. I feel that I fighted all my career against these kind of things, too. I missed lot of opportunities. But the other hand, I won a lot.

Is tough, these moments, but at the same time, on the other hand, I going to keep going and I going to keep working hard to keep having opportunities.

I know the things are going the right way. I am playing well. I am enjoying on court. I am having a lot of success. I am very competitive at the age of 32. Lot of people in this room, including myself, never will think that at the age of 32 I will be here fighting for titles, fighting for the first positions of the rankings.

All my career everybody say that because of my style, I will have a short career. I still here. I still here because I love what I am doing. I still have the passion for the game. I going to keep fighting and working hard to keep enjoying this tour and keep having chances to compete at the highest level. So that’s all.

Q. When you look at the injuries that you have dealt with, Novak, Roger, Juan Martin, have as well, is this the reality of modern tennis: you’re going to have to sustain these injuries to play at the level you play at?
RAFAEL NADAL: Sorry, but is not fair to compare myself with them. They didn’t have a — Novak had something last year. Roger have couple of ones. But at the age of 36 is not the same.

You can go to the history and you can compare how many Grand Slams I missed in my career, Masters 1000s, you can compare how many they missed. Sorry, but is not the real comparation [sic].

But is part of the game. I can’t and will not complain. Is just something that is like this. Even like this, I am in a good sport of the history of this sport, and keep going. That’s all.

Q. Is hard court particularly difficult on your knees given your injury history at this point?
RAFAEL NADAL: It’s okay (tearing up).

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36 Comments for Rafael Nadal Talks About The Knee Injury That Made Him Retire To Del Potro At The US Open

Madmax Says:

Where’s the rest of the interview?

Colin Says:

Over the years, there have been endless claims that women should play best of 5, but with the men wearing out their bodies as they do, maybe they should play best of 3.

Humble Rafa Says:

My body always humbles me, not my opponents. But I must respect my body always, no?

chris ford1 Says:

Most pro tennis is not 5 setters. Just DC and Slams and I don’t know if 5 will be a part of the new DC Format. Meaning – most of the Tour has an insignificant part of their tournaments involve 5-setters. And with the top guys who go deep into Slams they still have most their tournaments are for three sets.
On going to three ….I can’t help but think how many of the classic matches are 5-setters…and if tennis “evolves” to shorter events and one of the things imposed is just 3-setters then never again will there be the great Slam matches that tests souls.

PS – those that watch the Rafa interview vs. reading about it will note that he is fantastic honest interview -the eyes – but if you view come prepared to disregard 300+ facial and body tics he had. I think his tics, if not his overall OCD , is getting worse.

Humble Rafa Says:

Real men play 5 sets in grand slams. Small get fried playing at night due to humidity and heat.

skeezer Says:

^ guess your not a real man. You can’t finish.

Amit Says:

Lol skeeze!! 😜😜😜 nice humbling of humble rafa by you, haha 😛😜😜😜

Hm Says:

Nadal is very aware how many slams he has missed outright or been injured in compared to Djoker and Federer. It makes his slam count even more impressive.

Madmax Says:

Heh Giles…what do you think when players give full disclosure of their injuries as an excuse…rather than to say nothing at all…and where were you when your man needed you most?..you coward!… strong and mouthy when he’s winning…then you disappear in the shake of a pepper pot!

Giles Says:

Madmax. I am not going to grace your questions with any sort of response. Not worth it.

Giles Says:

Madmax. Tell me, why did your man tank the match away against Milkman?? The heat was too uncomfortable for him? Gosh, first time I’ve seen the Fed sweat. He needs more conditioning, no?

Daniel Says:

He had more iniured periods but he never had to undergo surgery for them.

Djoko has a elbow one and Fed knee at 35. Something he never had to deal with so far.

And let’s be honest, had he been more effective in Kacha-Basi-Thiem he may be in final.

His style still is the main csau of all majority (id not all) hos physical ailment. Tennis is not suppose to be played the way he does. String technology, new fitness levels, diets, slowing of courts, racket technology are all the factors that allowed Nadal (who would be a phenomenon ant era he played in) be the player he is today and play the way he does.
He began this trend which, war of attrition to the fullest.

It has its toe, but long term, considreing he is 32 and still winning, he was right in the end.
And as he said, he already learn how to assess ir and heal. Its not the first and probably won’t be the last.

BBB Says:

Why must everything devolve into a p!ssing match. Now we’re arguing over my guy’s injuries vs yours? Come on.

It’s sad when someone who fights as hard as Rafa does is forced to retire from a match. Of course he talked about his injuries. He retired from the match and they asked him about his knees. That really isn’t the same as losing and then notifying everyone your back hurts.

Giles Says:

Daniel. You are always the first to denigrate Rafa. What is your effing problem with him, eh? We know you don’t like his style of play but that doesn’t warrant your constant insults. Don’t like his style? Very simple. DO NOT WATCH HIM PLAY!! The man is #1 in the world. He must be doing something right!
Just lay off criticising Rafa at every opportunity.

Truth Says:

Computer #1 because Djoker was injured for more than 1 year.
Fed also melted fast after reaching #1.

Ramon O. Says:

Such a heartbreaking moment. Even as a devout Fed fan, I feel for Rafa so much. The guy is an absolute warrior, the consummate professional and gentleman, and the second greatest of all time (IMO). Wish him a speedy recovery.

AndyMira Says:

Thank u Ramon O for your wonderful words!

skeeze Says:

Interesting your words, you put Fed in there instead of Rafa and it describes you!
“You are always the first to denigrate Fed. What is your effing problem with him, eh? We know you don’t like his style of play but that doesn’t warrant your constant insults. Don’t like his style? Very simple. DO NOT WATCH HIM PLAY!! The man was #1 in the world. He must be doing something right!
Just lay off criticising Fed at every opportunity.”
For me it is time to give Rafa a pass. I watched his interview, every minute of it, and his condition is what it is. He is trying his best with what he has. Tendonitis is a condition that you can just wake up and boom, you’re out. Probably more likely was caused by overuse, as most are. He insists on playing a very physical CC season, then goes right into grass and then the summer HC. Mentioned before but we all can now see his past history of playing. How many times has he had to shut down part of a season with injury?
His body type/style of play has proven it can’t handle it like other guys. You gotta give him the credit though he is still here @ 32 as world #1. So yeah, in my book he gets a pass from having to retire. Delpo probably would have beaten him anyways, but to watch the worlds #1 walk off and see him mouth the words “no chance” meant exactly that, he wouldn’t been able to compete. Knowing this Lion he is not going to battle unless he can.

Giles Says:

Hey skeezer. When was the last time I criticised fed? I honestly don’t remember. Remind me.

Giles Says:

Skeezer. What do you mean “ his body /type style of play …….like other guys”.Dont make me laugh. Rafa is 32years old and we are seeing how the younger guys are crumbling already. Retirements and losses galore. So your argument really doesn’t hold up.

skeezer Says:

Oh that is not a hard thing to find;
“Giles Says:
Lol. He had to wait till age 37 to produce a great shot?!

September 2nd, 2018 at 5:54 am”

I am not comparing Rafa to other players, the guy is an all time great. Yes he has crumbled already, numerous times with retirement and/or injury, and came back. But injuries are like, well, injuries, the more times you get them the more times they come back, especially with his style of play.

Giles Says:

Skeezer. Lol. Is that the best you could come up with? Null and void! It was meant to be a bit jovial, not really a criticism. Do some more digging if you can!

Giles Says:

Skeezer. No need to preach Rafa about injuries. He is very experienced.

Humble Rafa Says:

It’s good to know knee injuries still allow you partake in other activities. Xisca is very satisfied.

skeezer Says:

“Is that the best you could come up with?”
No, It was the first thing I could find. It was only a few days ago, when Fed ( of course ) was still in it creating fabulous stuff. Most everyone here knows your stchik.
“No need to preach Rafa about injuries.”
No preaching, just explaining, something you can’t except, no?
Look, I know you’re bitter, losing it, bad mood, etc. and I will leave you to your misery.

Truth Says:

Fedal fans are crying hysterically. Their idols can’t get through a Slam but Novak is the one shining because he wore down their idols. The leader always shines brighter than Fedal.

Daniel Says:


I didn’t said anything to denigrate him, just he has a different apraoch regarding injurys.

The others had surgery, which to me is always more career threatening, than a tendinitis he is batling on and off since 2005.

And mentioning his physcial style is nothing new. Even said in the end he was right, as even with his style and everybody doom and gloom he still on top form winning hig titles at 32 an age (even himself said) many thought he could be gone.

And I am a tennis fan first, play and watch this sport long before Fedalovic and wil do so afer they are gone. I’ll watch all matches i can.

Also the Nadal from 2017 onwards is way more entertainign to watch as you can see he is more agresive than before. More complete player.

Mystic - Willow Says:

Good one HR , i needed a good laugh, shes a lucky gal lol ….

Giles Says:

Skeezer. “ No it was the first thing I could find ……”. You’ll probably have to go into the archives to find much else. Unlike you and your little digs every time rafa plays. Well, you can have a rest now cos Rafa ain’t joining the tour for a little while at least.

Madmax Says:


You can’t take the heat? Get outta the kitchen.

Grace is a noun I would never ever use in a sentence where you are concerned. You know that at every opportunity, you have degraded, abused, criticised Federer for every shot he has delivered, you could not even allow yourself to utter the words, congratulations whenever he has done fantastically well. You get the All time tree award, along with Wogboy, such is your absolute jealousy of this man’s accomplishments.

You have been one of the dreadful personalities here who has always accused Federer of tanking, or feigning illness, or talking about his injuries. And now, here is rafa talking about his knee. Again.

We know about Rafa’s knee/s. Who doesn’t. We know he goes to get it ‘fixed’ in order to play. We know Giles. We know about the stem cell therapy because he has admitted to it.

For all of your knocking of Fed, when it comes around to Rafa, you just can’t take it. You can’t take the truth and when someone, anyone challenges you on this, you cowardly give a pathetic one liner, because you cannot come up with a better argument.

And you simply couldn’t watch him play because you are a coward in times of loss, when your man needs you most. You teach us one thing. You are not a real fan of Rafa. Only interested when he wins and then you don’t even watch him. You hide amongst his glory days Giles. That is all.

There is no grace in that at all.

Madmax Says:

Grow up Giles. Accept that Rafa should play if he is fit and stop complaining about it afterwards. It is not becoming of the champion that he is. No need to go on about being Number 1. Yes, he is. In tournaments this year, that has allowed him this accolade. But we all really need to move on from his injuries. He will be back, with new knees soon enough and then we can all see the benefits of the stem cell therapy at work.

Madmax Says:

Giles Says:
Skeezer. “ No it was the first thing I could find ……”. You’ll probably have to go into the archives to find much else. Unlike you and your little digs every time rafa plays. Well, you can have a rest now cos Rafa ain’t joining the tour for a little while at least.

September 8th, 2018 at 1:03 pm

Giles, Rafa will get over his injuries, he always does, with the help of stem cell therapy. Give him time and he will be back. He just shouldn’t labour the point about his knees. It’s boring.

Giles Says:

Madmax. I am not going to read your cr@p so don’t expect any response from me. You’ve obviously got a whole load of time on your hands and you are spending that time trying to annoy the Rafa fans. Forget it, am not taking the bait, got better things to do than to go back and forth with you. Find someone else to chat with. Goodbye.

Giles Says:

Madmax. Do you have any mental health issues? Just asking.

Humble Rafa Says:

If I can’t win the US Open, I have asked Santa Claus to give the US Open trophy to the Elf, you know the tall one. Yeah, that one.

I recommended the Elf on behalf of our esteemed The Injury Club. That Elf has gone through a lot.

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