Rafael Nadal may have to face up to six months out with the abdominal injury that forced him to withdraw from Wimbledon, according to a sports medicine specialist. Nadal battled through the pain against Taylor Fritz with his stomach tear causing serious issues.
Painkillers were able to get him through the match in the end to reach the semi-finals for a clash with Nick Kyrgios. But his involvement was going to depend on the result of medical tests and how he felt in practice on Thursday.
There was a scramble to try and see Nadal in action as he arrived late in the day and ended up practicing on Aorangi Park away from the spotlight. Reports began emerging that Nadal was hopeful of playing, but it was confirmed later in the evening that he would have to pull out.
Nadal gave a press conference explaining that he took the decision because he didn’t feel able to “win two matches under these circumstances”. He also wanted to avoid the potential scenario of missing two or three months of competitive tennis, insisting he currently feels as though he can be back playing in three or four weeks.
Dr Carlos Gaunche suggests that timeframe is possible for Nadal’s return, but there is also a chance that the Spaniard could miss the remainder of the year if there is more damage to the stomach then what has been reported. “In many cases, about six weeks of recovery time is appropriate,” said Dr Gaunche.
“However, in some cases, it is necessary to repair the tear if there is more damage than just the 7 mm tear that has been discussed in the media. In these cases, it could take three to six months for recovery.”
He added: “Typically, the description is a very sharp pain with straining. As he hits the ball, he would feel a very sharp stab in the area of the abdominal muscular church disruption.”
“It is very painful and his strength in hitting shots, especially forehands, would be significantly affected.”
By Nadal’s own estimation, he expects to be back playing in time to feature at the US Open. The North American hardcourt swing begins on August 1 at the Washington Open with the last major of the year at Flushing Meadows starting on August 29.