Defending champion at the ‘Internazionali BNL d’Italia’ tournament in Rome, Rafael Nadal, failed to reach the quarterfinals on Thursday, when no. 17 Canadian Denis Shapovalov defeated him in three sets 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 in 2 hours and 37 minutes.
Our champ raced through the first set and hit back from 4-1 down to 4-4 in the second but as the match wore on, his left foot was evidently bothering him more and more and Shapovalov took full advantage to reach the quarter-finals.
“I am living with an injury. My day by day is difficult,” Rafa said post-match. “I am trying hard but of course it’s difficult to accept the situation at times. A lot of days I can’t practise the proper way.
“Today it started halfway through the second set and it was unplayable for me. I don’t want to take away credit from Denis that he deserves… Today is for him.”
He later added: “I started playing the match much better… so I feel sad about that. A lot of positive things but when this happens the rest of the positive things disappear. It’s time to accept the situation and fight.”
Source: Tennis Majors, ATP Tour
Rafa’s extended comments as reported at atptour.com leave the door open for RG. My sense of it is that as long as the pain let’s up enough to permit practice time he will go to Paris. It’s a curious and weird thing that time off may actually cause his foot to act up.
So frustrating for Rafa because he knows he has so much more he wants to do in the sport, but his body just won’t let him.
He said that he was on the verge of retiring from the sport having talked about it with his team during the injury spell last year.
It’s hard for him to know what to do for the best, but I sincerely hope that “talk” doesn’t happen again too soon.
Meanwhile, if Rafa doesn’t play at RG, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Alcaraz (who is now the favourite) to lift the trophy, because, for me, that would be fitting.
It’s very sad to hear any sportsperson say that sometimes the pain takes away their joy in competing. I want Rafa and Roger to keep on playing for ever, but obviously that’s not going to happen. Rafa’s got other things ahead of him, hopefully including starting a family, and there’ll come a time when he decides that he doesn’t want to play on. But hopefully it won’t be this year.