Rafael Nadal Is Wise to Exercise Patience This Summer in Lead-Up to US Open
When you've won 12 Grand Slams by age 27, you're allowed to call the shots.
For Rafael Nadal, balancing training with relaxation is something that has worked before, and he's hoping it will work again this summer as he takes aim at a second career U.S. Open championship, per coach Toni Nadal via ESPN UK:
Rafa will come back. He has no fear of this break - he has nothing more to lose.
Currently Rafa is doing physical training, but no court workouts. The break is important - he has played enough.
Patience is something that has served Rafa well on and off the tennis court over the years. And now, the eight-time French Open champion is in the midst of an extended summer break following his shocking first-round defeat at Wimbledon last month.
He hasn't played since his straight-sets loss at the All England Club on June 24, and he isn't expected to compete again until early August, in time for the Rogers Cup on the hard courts of Montreal.
Although the one-month break is significant, it pales in comparison to Nadal's recent seven-month layoff that forced him to skip two Grand Slam tournaments, including last year's U.S. Open.
Keep in mind that Rafa has returned from lengthy breaks to have success at the U.S. Open in the past. Flashback to 2009, when he took significant time off following his upset loss at the French Open to recover from tendinitis in both knees, withdrawing from several summer tournaments before returning at the Rogers Cup in early August.
Nadal would go on to reach the semifinals at the U.S. Open that year.
Missing tournaments isn't going to help him return to No. 1 in the world rankings, but for one of the all-time greats, the ultimate goal is winning majors. The 2013 U.S. Open offers Rafa and everyone else one last shot to add a Slam to their resume before the end of the season.
Plus, judging by how well Nadal bounced back from his layoff earlier this year, reaching the final of his first nine tournaments before Wimbledon and winning seven of them, this mini break can only benefit him.
After all, he looked more drained than shocked following his first-round exit at Wimbledon.
What's the most important thing for Rafa in order to win the U.S. Open?
While the world No. 4 recently turned 27 last month, he has over 750 professional singles matches and 35 Grand Slam appearances under his belt. Not to mention that Nadal's style of play is as demanding as it gets.
The constant sliding and endless hustling have been key to his incredible run over the past decade, but they've also taken a physical toll.
In order for Rafa to continue playing his brand of successful tennis, he's going to need more and more time off in order to allow his body to recover, which is appropriate given where he is in his playing career.
For a teenager looking to make a name for himself, these July tournaments are crucial. But for Rafael Nadal, they are nothing more than warm-ups for the big-boy tournament coming up at the end of August.
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.
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