Rafael Nadal: It’s not a physical injury, but it’s a mental injury

(AFP) Rafael Nadal on Tuesday said he had shaken off his foot problem from the China Open final — and added that he was also recovering from the “mental injury” he blames for his struggles on court this year.

Rafa, speaking ahead of the Shanghai Masters, said the foot injury which gave him a “scary moment” during Sunday’s 6-2, 6-2 loss to Novak Djokovic had disappeared by Monday morning.

And he also said he was finally getting to grips with the loss of confidence which unnerved him this year as he failed to win a Grand Slam title for the first time since 2004.

“Sometimes I recover from injuries. This time what I had, with my not having the control of my nerves or my emotion, is like coming back from an injury, too,” he told reporters.

“It’s not a physical injury, but it’s a mental injury. And this for me is another challenge.”

Despite the lopsided scoreline in Sunday’s final against the world number one, Rafa enjoyed a positive tournament in Beijing as he reached his first hardcourt title match all year.

And the 29-year-old maintained he was heading in the right direction to return to the sort of level which has brought him 14 Grand Slam titles.

“I am working hard. I’ve never had such a long period of time without playing at the level that I wanted,” Nadal said.

“I lost the matches that I should win, close matches, third-set matches. None of these important matches, I won none of those ones. So sometimes it’s like a restart,” he added.

“I believe that I am much better. I don’t know what the results are going to be till the end of the season. But I really believe if I continue with the same quality of practices, the same health of my body, I really hope and I believe that I can start the next year with (more) energy and I believe another level.”

Source: Agence France-Presse


  1. Rafa you are such a dedicated hard working professional athlete and I know how hard you try,
    so keep it up, and all the best,


  2. It happens, all is possible like roger losing in 1 st match that doesnt mean he is a not good
    He and rafa has legacy behind them u cannot write them off
    Novak will sooner face such situation
    Rafa will rise again

      • Not rare. You remember Fed losing in R3 at Mc, R2 at Madrid, R3 at AO and now R2 at Shanghai? There may be more to come! And we are talking about a good year for Fed!

  3. Rafa I feel so sad when you have to work so hard and use all your energy and loses the point especially in long rallies ! You need a new coach to teach you to get to the nets more and you are a great volleyer! What is uncle Tony saying to you ? He’s not good enough any more for you you need a coach to take you to another level ! come on stop being so stubborn and take a good look at Serena, Joker they add a new coach they won slams, you need new techniques and strategies taking the ball early and cut the points short, I wish you just listen and get a coach ASAP

    • yeah l totally agree with you Chandra. His uncle Toni is too proud to admit that he has reached his limit of coaching & must take on an additional coach. Rafa on the other hand must change his mindset & style of play, change his old habits. Both are stubborn people, thought their way works but it doesn’t anymore. Therefore must think of new tactics & play smart. Most of all it’s Rafa’s mental problem. H e could’nt shake off his phobia of being beaten by those outside the no.100ranking players. once he overcome this fear then he will be back to his old self. In his latest interview he admitted that he has mental injury. See he does need a shrink to help him but l guess he doesn’t want to admit it which is very sad which cause his slump & perhaps his downfall.

  4. I ‘ve been saying that Rafa urgently needs to consult a good sport psychologist for the last 3 years. He also needs a new coach to put together an effective game plan. working hard is not the solution. his hard work and energy should be channelled in a constructive way. Yoga meditation is effective but a good psychologist (absolutely no medication) is much needed.

    • Last three years?? I thought he was doing fine in 2013 when he regained no.1 and won two slams beating Novak both times? His recent plight was due more to his back injury and the subsequent loss of confidence coming back from injury.

      His motivation is still there; he’s improving and he’s trying to be more aggressive. He needs to get back his footwork and timing and that together with an aggressive mindset will help him get back to where he was before this slump. I like Francisco Roig’s take about Rafa’s game and where it is now and what they’re getting Rafa to do right now.

  5. VAMOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) : ) : ) You are doing everything right precious Rafa…..enjoy all your great Tennis!!!!!!!!!! : ) : ) Very nice interviews & great photos!!! : )

  6. Onward and upward Rafa! I see your improvements, just continue to work hard and get your footwork and timing back, and all those near misses would be landing in.

    You’re still the one who put the most pressure on Novak and made him worked and ran like mad even when you’re in a slump. I look forward to your getting back into form soon. Oh, and getting back into top four, make it a reality!

  7. I agree! Also, you will not win until you flatten out your shots more. Your opponents are up to your spins and are waiting for it. Add a new coach like Djokovic, Federer, Murray and Serena did. Look where they are!

    • How many titles has Andy won?? Just because Andy is in better form this year, don’t mean that he can be compared to Rafa. How quickly people forget about their prediction of immediate demise of Andy (2014) and Roger (2013) !!

      • Andy won ZERO slams before hiring Ivan Lendl. After hiring Ivan, he won 2 slams and an Olympic gold medal. Coaching matters. Big time.

    • Ditto. Well said. He must accelerate, flatten, elevate & lengthen his shots like he did in 2013, instead of looping and slicing balls into the middle of the court like he has since then. These super conservative, play-it-safe shots are batting practice for his opponents. A REAL coach would have nipped this losing strategy in the bud, and put Rafa back on the right path of hard hitting, deep-hitting, first strike tennis.

      • You have to take into consideration that Rafa had his back issue after 2013. I’m sure he’s smarter than anyone here where tennis is concerned. If he could hit harder and deeper he would have done so.

      • Are you serious Lucky Star? You don’t think Rafa can hit the ball deep any time he wants to? You don’t think he can hit 90 MPH ground-strokes any time he wants to? You don’t think he can elevate and flatten out his shots any time he wants to? By making such a silly and uninformed statement, you obviously have little or no experience playing the game yourself.

        The reason Rafa doesn’t drive the ball hard and deep like he used to is not because he can’t do it. It’s because he FEARS doing it. He fears that he’ll hit the ball too deep – i.e. OUT – and lose the point as a result. This fear of hitting the ball past the baseline has devolved into a PHOBIA, causing him to adopt the super careful, super cautious, super conservative style of play that we’ve seen from him over the last 2 years – which is good enough to beat most opponents, but NOT good enough to beat top players, or lower-ranked players when they’re hot.

        Yes, Rafa does indeed know a lot more about tennis than I do. But unfortunately, his fears and phobias have prevented him from exercising his best judgement. That’s why hiring a NEW coach whom he will respect and listen to – and perhaps a sports psychologist as well – is so crucially important for him at this stage of his career.

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