It is no secret that Rafael Nadal is champion. That he will go down as one of the hardest working, and most competitive players ever is without question.
What is a question is how long those troublesome knees can continue to take the pounding his body receives throughout a season. In what has become a sad ritual, Rafa has pulled out of yet another tournament this year (his second) and some wonder whether he will be both fit and ready to compete on grass.
It is sad really, that a player who desires so much and works so hard would have these problems as only a freshly-turned 23-years old.
It is obvious to anyone who has been watching tennis over the past few years that Rafa simply plays too much. In an effort I'm sure, to get to the top and remain there, he is forcing himself to play when his body needs rest.
And the constant beating on his knees and body is catching up to him.
At least part of his loss at Roland Garros can be attributed to the pounding he has taken this year, and especially in the clay court season.
The question now is, what should Rafa do?
The Slams are most important of course, and while I am sure Rafa wants to be ranked No. 1 after chasing Roger for so many years, I wonder if sacrificing a ranking or two in exchange for another five or six slams is worth it.
What I know is that if this pounding continues, it is at least possible that Rafa may not be playing tennis at all in a few years and if he is, it may not be the same Rafa we see now.
Next year Rafa needs to lessen his clay court season. This year he played the Davis Cup, Barcelona, Rome, Monte Carlo, Madrid and finally Roland Garros. He did all of that since the beginning of April. That is simply way too much in such a short span.
As much as he may not want to do it, he needs to at least drop Madrid, and possibly Barcelona since it's only a 500 event. With only Rome, and Monte Carlo to warm up, he would be much fresher going into the tournament.
I don't want to see a hobbled and rigid Rafa getting beaten by mediocre players because he can barely move on the court. So I say Rafa, take it easier during the season. If missing a tournament means winning Wimbledon, or the U.S. Open, then do it.
Because in the end, that slam total will be what is remembered, not how many overall titles you won. Rest, train, and get the Wimbledon title again this year. I for one, will be rooting for you every second of the way to that trophy ceremony.
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