Rafael Nadal said he felt like he’d broken his foot during his Round of 16 vs. del Potro last week. He decided to play on after seeing the results of and MRI, though he admitted to reporters that his foot was “not fine” and he was taking anesthetic injections to dull the pain. It turns out that he’s suffered a hairline fracture to his left foot and he could be out of the game for most of the summer. According to tennis.com, Nadal told the Spanish press after his loss today in the final that he “would not return to the practice courts until he was completely healed physically and mentally.”
A hairline fracture to the foot is a common sports injury. It’s a small sliver or crack to the bone caused after “unusual or repeated stress” and also heavy continuous weight on the ankle or leg. Olympic class athletes in high-impact sports – like Rafa – often fall victim to this injury because they’re basically stressing out the bones in their feet over and over again until something, well, cracks. According to Wikipedia:
Rest is the only option for complete healing of a stress fracture. The amount of recovery time varies greatly depending upon the location, severity, the strength of the body’s healing response and an individual’s nutritional intake. Complete rest and a cast or walking boot are usually used for a period of four to eight weeks, although periods of rest of twelve to sixteen weeks is not uncommon for more severe stress fractures. After this period activities may be gradually resumed, as long as the activities do not cause pain. While the bone may feel healed and not hurt during daily activity, the process of bone remodeling may take place for many months after the injury feels healed, and incidences of re-fracturing the bone is still at significant risk. Activities such as running or sports that place additional stress on the bone should only gradually be resumed. One general rule is to not increase the volume of training by more than 10 percent from one week to the next.
So, if best case Rafa’s out for six weeks (and that’s majorly wishful thinking at this point) he’s going to be pushing it to be ready for Cincinnati. He’ll most definitely miss Montreal. It’s highly likely that the US Open will be his first hard court tournament of the summer and there’s a possibility he’ll miss it all together. *Alarm bells!* Though I assume he has the best doctors on the case, playing through pain with the help of anesthetics – as he did for the quarters, semis and final at Wimbledon – can do major harm to an already injured area because you don’t feel the harm you’re doing until after it’s done. *More alarm bells*
This puts a damper in the ATP’s major storyline, doesn’t it?