Rafael Nadal has been away from the game of tennis since July, rehabbing a partially torn patella tendon in his left knee—a blessing in disguise.
Nadal, who has been spending a lot of time in the pool as part of a rehabilitation plan for his knee, says it is improving, according to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN).
I am feeling a little bit better now than the first couple of months. It has been very, very tough for me because I feel my knee didn't improve in the right direction, but today is something different. The last couple of weeks the improvement of my knee is something I really can feel.
While you would think Nadal missing the last three-and-a-half months would be devastating, it's actually going to be a good thing that the tennis star has been sidelined.
For one, the last portion of the season's matches are on hard courts, which would do a number on the clay-court master's already injured knees. And let's face it—Nadal hasn't been the best in the last quarter of the season.
As ESPN's Peter Bodo writes,
Nadal has been least reliable in the final quarter of the year. I'm including the U.S. Open as the start of that quarter; he has had more losses at the U.S. Open, where he is 34-8, than at any other Grand Slam venue, and he never has won a Masters 1000 event on hard courts after Toronto/Montreal.
With the end of the season approaching, that means it's almost time for the ATP World Tour Finals, which happens to be one event that Nadal has yet to win, as he's made it to the finals just once in his young career.
As the Associated Press notes, Nadal hasn't ruled out returning next month to play in the ATP World Tour Finals, but Nadal would be better suited resting his knees and preparing for the 2013 season.
The end of the tennis season doesn't really present a great opportunity for Nadal to add to his resume, so there's no reason for him to rush back and try to play this year. The game of tennis is at its best when Nadal is dominating his opponents, and right now he needs to focus on rehabbing his knee so that he can get back to his level before the injury.
After having little success in the last portion of the season throughout his career, Nadal would be wise to strengthen his knees and come back in 2013 better than ever.
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