Rafael Nadal has given an insight into how much pain he is still experiencing from his abdominal injury after a shock loss to Borna Coric at the Cincinnati Masters. Nadal hadn’t competed since his withdrawal from Wimbledon at the semi-final stage.
The Spaniard picked up an abdominal tear midway through the Grand Slam and tried to battle on, before pulling out of the tournament before his scheduled match against Nick Kyrgios. He has since taken time off to try and recover from the troublesome injury in time to compete at the US Open.
Nadal confirmed last week that he would be making his return in Cincinnati to try and build up some momentum for the final Slam of the year. And he was even given a favourable schedule to give him ample time to prepare as his opening match didn’t take place until Wednesday evening.
But it was far from a favourable draw for Nadal’s first match back from injury against a player who held a strong record in their previous meetings. Coric proved troublesome for Nadal throughout and ended up improving to a 3-2 record against Nadal in his favour.
The shock early exit for Nadal now raises questions about his ability to win Grand Slam No 23 at Flushing Meadows. But more worrying will be Nadal’s own assessment on his injury issues with the 36-year-old suggesting that he still hasn’t fully recovered from the abdominal injury.
“You lose, you move forward. I know the way,” he said. “The main thing for me is stay healthy. It has been a difficult injury to manage, to be honest.
“The last month and a half hasn’t been easy, because having a tear on the abdominal, you don’t know when [you are]100 per cent over the thing, so that affects a little bit in terms of not [being] sure if you are able to try your best in every serve.”
Nadal also had a chance to become the world No 1 for the first time since January 2020. Federer is the oldest No 1 in the ATP Tour history having held the ranking at 36 years and 10 months old.
Nadal only recently turned 36 and would need to hold the No 1 spot past April next week to take the record away from Federer. But the Spaniard will still have a chance to break Novak Djokovic’s record as the oldest year-end No 1, who was 34 years of age when he achieved the feat last year.
Nadal will have plenty of points on offer at the US Open if he does compete having skipped last year’s Slam.