In another special comeback story, Rafael Nadal clinched the 2022 French Open title by beating Casper Ruud in the final on Sunday. With the win, the Spaniard collected his 22nd Grand Slam title and 14th crown at Roland Garros.
The 36-year-old managed to keep his foot injury under control for the duration of the tournament, beating four top-10 players en route to the title.
A little over three weeks ago, Nadal raised serious doubts about his participation in the claycourt Major due to a long-standing foot injury that he aggravated during the Italian Open in Rome. The good news for Nadal leading up to the French Open was that he had fought this injury many times in the past.
While he had already made it clear that it was almost impossible to be completely free of the pain, the Spaniard took assistance from his doctor throughout the French Open to keep playing.
With the tournament is done and dusted, the 14-time French Open champion provided further details of his injury, the future course of action, and what it means for his career.
What is the foot injury that has troubled Rafael Nadal over the years?
Rafael Nadal suffers from a degenerative condition in his foot, known as the Mueller-Weiss Syndrome. It has plagued him from the early stages of his career, but the Spaniard recently hinted that the pain has been almost impossible to deal with of late.
Mueller-Weiss Syndrome is a rare disease in which a bone located in the mid-foot region undergoes spontaneous osteonecrosis, mainly in adults. As a result, blood flow is cut off from the navicular bone, causing excruciating pain in the affected region. The condition causes chronic pain in the foot.
The former World No. 1 has undergone several treatments, both major and minor, over the years to keep the injury at bay. Late last year, he underwent another major procedure on his foot and was spotted on crutches soon after. He took a few months to recover and returned to action at the start of the season.
Speaking after winning the 2022 French Open final, Nadal revealed that he was only able to play in Paris after taking extreme treatment. He had to take numerous injections on the nerves in his foot to reduce the pain.
"I was able to play during these two weeks with extreme conditions, no? I have been playing with an injections on the nerves to sleep the foot, and that's why I was able to play during these two weeks, no, because I have no feelings on my foot, because my doctor was able to put anesthetic injections on the nerves. That takes out the feeling on my foot," Nadal said.
Possible treatment for Rafael Nadal's foot injury and what it means for his tennis future
The 36-year-old, who is being forced to inject his foot every day, admitted that he does not wish to keep playing under the current arrangements. At the same time, he wants to keep going and revealed that he will try a new treatment soon after returning home from Paris.
Doctors will try to create a permanent version of the temporary solution that has allowed him to play the French Open. They will try to use a 'radio-frequency injection' on the two impacted nerves in his foot, which could involve burning the nerves a bit. If that does not work, another major surgery could be in store, according to Nadal.
"That's what we are gonna try. If that works, I gonna keep going. If that not works, then gonna be another story. And then I gonna answer to myself, I gonna ask to myself about if I am ready to do a major thing without being sure that the things are going the proper way, for example," Nadal said.
Surgery could keep the Mallorcan out of action for another long period. As for his immediate plans, he did not rule out participating at Wimbledon, which begins in three weeks. The two-time Wimbledon champion expressed that he is keen to play the grasscourt Major provided his upcoming treatment goes well.
"I'm going to be in Wimbledon if my body is ready to be in Wimbledon. That's it. Wimbledon is not a tournament that I want to miss. So if you ask me if I will be in Wimbledon, I can't give you a clear answer. If I want to win Wimbledon, of course. Let's see how the treatment works. I don't know," Nadal said.
While it is clear that he wishes to continue his tennis career, he is also well aware that he needs to find a long-term solution to his chronic foot injury. Time will tell what the 22-time Grand Slam champion's tennis future has in store.