Rafael Nadal is one of the best tennis players in the world. The 25-year-old has won 10 majors including six French Open titles. He was on top of his game last year, winning all but one major (the Australian Open where he pulled out of a match, blaming his knees). He’s fallen behind the interminable Novak Djokovic this year, but he’s still the next best player on tour. The only thing that’s been able to stop him is Djokovic, and his knees.
Nadal has battled tendinitis in his knees for years and it may have been the worst in 2009. Nadal didn’t play Wimbledon that year because of the injury. In an excerpt taken from his book that was published by the Telegraph, Nadal says his parents’ separation that year caused his knee problems.
From the selection:
My attitude was bad. I was depressed, lacking in enthusiasm. On the surface I remained a tennis-playing automaton, but the man inside had lost all love of life.
My team members were at a loss as to how to react to the gloom that descended on me. I became a different person, distant and cold; short and sharp in conversation. They worried about me, and they worried about the impact of my parents’ separation on my game.
They knew I couldn’t keep winning; they knew something had to give. And it did. First it was my knees that went.
Terribly sad, I pulled out of Wimbledon. My knees were the immediate reason, but I knew that the root cause was my state of mind. My competitive zeal had waned, the adrenalin had dried up.
My physical trainer, Joan Forcades, says there is a “holistic” cause-and-effect connection between emotional distress and physical collapse. He says that if your head is in permanent stress, you sleep little and your mind is distracted – exactly the symptoms.
I was showing at that time – the impact on your body is devastating. Messages are relayed to the muscles that, under the pressure of competition, lead to injuries. I am sure Joan is right.
I completely believe that Nadal’s mindset was affected by the divorce. I can believe it caused him to play worse than usual. I just think there are more medically-focused reasons for why his knees became problematic. But hey, a huge part of sports is mental, so if a player isn’t mentally well, perhaps it does affect his overall being.Google+